We joke all the time on the Dennis & Judi show that the Big Joe Jersey Talent Show discovered everyone from Beyoncé to Elton John. But the truth is for years it has been a showcase for so much great New Jersey talent.

One act, however, was very special to us. Back in 2016, we discovered two little girls named Sophie and Echo Picone and we absolutely melted.

Singing a beautiful sister duet on the stage at Jenkinson‘s in Point Pleasant Beach, the entire audience immediately fell in love. There was something about these two girls. It wasn’t just their talent. They seem to glow from within and we, along with the entire audience that night, were mesmerized.

We simply had to have them sing on the show. And sing they did. To the delight of our entire staff and listening audience. Everyone fell in love with Sophie and Echo.

Over the years, Echo’s career has taken off. She has voiced the role of mean girl Kendra on PBS’s “Pinkalicous and Petteriffic”. She has appeared in the film “Thorp” and voiced the role of Kana in “Weathering with You”. She starred as Annie in Deal,  Axelrod Performing Art Center, sharing the stage with Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle.

So I almost feel like I’m talking about one of my own kids when I talk about the success of Echo Deva Picone in her off-Broadway debut in the magnificent show, "Trevor." It’s a show that I urge all of you to see because it’s about self-acceptance. Especially for the kid who somehow doesn’t fit in. And whether you’re young or old, the most popular kid or the bully yourself, it’s so important for everyone to understand kids who are “weird,” different for any reason at all.

The cast is so incredibly talented. But of course, watching Echo turn from this tiny adorable tot into this beautiful and accomplished pro actress, singer and dancer —makes our hearts sing.

Here’s a little photo tour through Echo’s journey from tiny powerhouse to Bona Fide star on the rise. And you’ll want to take note. You heard it here first. And we’re so thrilled to be along for the ride.

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The night we met Sophie and Echo Picone, the girls performed their infectious beachy tune “In the Waves.” Their hilarious onstage interview with Big Joe and their performance not only advanced them to finals, but it also earned them places in Dennis and Judi’s hearts and guest appearances on their radio show.
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The girls became a favorite of Dennis and Judi Audiences with their in-studio appearances.
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One look at Echo Deva Picone at the age of 5 and you just knew she’d be a star.
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Judi with Echo when she played the lead in “Annie” at the Axelrod Theatre in Deal.
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Trevor (Holden William Hagelberger) has a huge imagination and Diana Ross is a guiding light in his life. There’s  Echo, red ponytail flying, 2nd from right.

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Echo Picone chilling with the amazing cast of Trevor
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Me with the poised and talented kid cast of Trevor. Not just talented, but polite and poised and good, nice kids. I want to hang with them every day and I don’t say that about too many teenagers LOL.
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Echo Deva Picone takes a minute for a photo op on Opening Night at the Off-Broadway show, Trevor.
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"Trevor" is about the power of self-acceptance. The cast is mostly a group of super talented kids, ages 12-17, and Echo has the principal role of Mary, the leader of the mean girls, who makes Trevor’s life a living hell. These kids are strong, gutsy and as sweet offstage as they are talented
Now that "Trevor" is open, Echo is in 9 shows a week and is loving every minute of it. She loves her cast and crew and she is doing what she feels she was born to do.
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During rehearsals, Echo would catch the 6:10 a.m. bus from Clinton to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and get herself to tutoring which is provided by the production. After tutoring the cast would rehearse, she would catch the bus home, go to sleep and do the same thing the next day.

Can you see why we fell in love with her in the first place?

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.

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