Jordin Sparks kicks off first in-person RootsTech since 2020

Jordin Sparks sings her hit “One Step at a Time” in the first General Session of RootsTech on Thursday, March 2. Sparks is a Grammy-nominated singer and actor and emphasized the important role family has played in her life. (Family Search)

Jordin Sparks started off RootsTech 2023 as the first keynote speaker of the event on March 2.

The youngest contestant to ever win American Idol, Sparks, performed four songs she said were personally relevant to RootsTech, including her hit “One Step at a Time” and “She Used to be Mine” from her role in “Waitress” on Broadway.

Sparks also spoke about the impact her family had on her life as a contestant in American Idol and the continuing importance of the family she nurtures with her husband. “My family — they’re the thing that brings me back to center,” Sparks said.

A photo presented in the General Session of Sparks performing in Waitress on Broadway in 2019. Sparks said she connected personally to her character because her son was only 15 months old at the time she was performing. (Family Search)

Sparks also suggested her father, a former NFL player for the New York Giants, helped her cope with the sudden fame she experienced as a young winner of American Idol.

Now, Sparks continues to perform and works to advance her career while strengthening familial bonds.

“The younger group is interested anyway, they just don’t know it. Or they’ve got their own interest and so you have to understand where they are and give them the tools and the experiences they need,” Paul Nauta, the senior communications manager for FamilySearch and public relations manager for RootsTech, said.

Nauta highlighted the activities offered specifically for young adults on March 3 and 4 that will include dances hosted by Elder and Sister Gong.

“A lot of the sponsors of Roots Tech are giving away really wonderful gifts. I think they’re giving away laptops and other types of electronics, maybe even a trip for two to your homeland as part of the giveaway,” Nauta said.

BYU Professor Amy Harris also contributes to RootsTech through BYU’s exposition booth where students and professors encourage people to take advantage of extensive family history resources and educational opportunities offered at BYU.

“We’re the only bachelor’s degree in the world in family history. What that means is we have an enormous amount of resources for students to do really amazing things,” Harris said.

Harris also explained how BYU professors collaborated with FamilySearch to produce what has now become RootsTech. According to Harris, it’s a place where young adults can come to become more familiar with their ancestry and even network to find new opportunities.

Paul Nauta stands in front of the RootsTech Media Hub sign in the Expo Center. Nauta has been involved in RootsTech since its inception in Feb. 2011. (Joshua Rust)

“We would love the young adults to come out if they’re not planning to already. Family history, as most people know, has just changed. I think they will find this refreshingly surprising. You know, the energy that’s here at roots tech and the vast amount of content that is available,” Nauta said.

RootsTech will continue on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, and will include keynote addresses from Sean Astin and events hosted by Elder and Sister Gong.

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