Showstoppers from all across Bradley County made an appearance Friday night at Bradley Initiative for Church and Community’s “So You Think You’ve Got Talent” show.
Around 250 guests showed up for the two-hour show where contestants young and old fought for first place.
Corinne Freeman, BICC Starfish director, said the night was more than she expected.
“The event was wonderful. I don’t even have the words,” Freeman said. “We had a huge turnout for our first year.”
The show took place at the Bradley Central High School Fine Arts Center with Sarah Jennings of News Channel 9 as emcee.
Judging the show were Cleveland City Ballet owner Connie Gatlin, East Hamilton High School teacher Bethany Jinkerson, and professional vocalist Jermaine Purifory.
Contestants showcased talents ranging from singing to dancing to playing various musical instruments.
According to the judges reactions, all contestants showed up to win the grand prize of $500.
Contestants included Casey Craig, Hanna Blessing, Brittney Lee, Taylor Jones, Tiffany Croft, Panic in Promises, Third Generation, Corvin Brown, Quart Jars, Shannon Lawrence and Tatum Brinkman.
Judges awarded first place to Quart Jars, second to Corvin Brown and third to Casey Craig. Winners received $500, $250 and $100, respectively.
Quart Jars is a quartet of brothers Benjamin and Christopher Absher, and sisters Sydney and Kennedy Brown.
Kennedy said she and her sister heard about the talent show and asked Benjamin and Christopher to join them in singing Little Big Town’s “Boondocks.”
The judges were floored by the young group’s performance, and even more surprised when they discovered Sydney was only 14.
“You guys are absolutely adorable. I am such a sucker for harmonies. Harmony as a musician is one of my favorite things,” Jinkerson said. “When you can create it like that in a group so it is so natural and tight and effortless it is just beautiful.”
Purifory admitted “Boondocks” was his guilty pleasure song.
“I wanted to come on stage and sing so bad. You guys did so good,” Purifory said. “...Everything about it was country. I felt like I was watching people who had been doing this for 35 years. I would have not known you were a group of teenagers.”
Gatlin agreed the group handled themselves like performance veterans.
“The vocal was all there and the music was all there…” Gatlin said. “It was just extremely well done and really I don’t know where the rest of Cleveland is, but they are really missing a wonderful show.”
Corvin took second place, right behind his sisters, with his cover of Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High.” The third-grader began the song contained and singing into the microphone. He broke away halfway through his performance to finish belting out the lyrics. Much to the crowd’s delight, Corvin also threw in the moonwalk as part of his performance.
Instrumental was provided by a recorded accompaniment of his father playing the guitar.
Jennings informed the crowd Corvin’s father wanted to be present, but had recently been mobilized with the Army.
“I like your style. I like your looks. I liked your performance,” Gatlin said. “Even though you are a short guy right now, this six-foot voice came out of you. We love you. We enjoyed you.”
Jinkerson said she wished she could bring Corvin to her work and have him sing for her students.
“I was like [Purifory] I had chills the whole time,” Jinkerson said. “You have such a great voice and the older you get, it is just going to improve.”
“I love that you sang the song with everything you have in you. You really made me feel it and I know you made the audience feel it, as well.”
Craig, a pianist, won third place with his original strictly instrumental piece “Vindicated and Blended.”
He began with a slow intro which soon moved into a frenzy of notes and sound. At one point, the young performer continued playing with one hand while drinking water from a bottle with the other.
Jinkerson said Craig did a great job.
“I loved all your different genres you through in there and just how great you were with the audience. That really was a nice touch. I loved that,” Jinkerson said. “Very nice job. Very nice technique.”
Purifory said it was very difficult to choose the top three from the 11 performers.
“I was blown away. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy decision, but I didn’t know it was going to be that hard,” Purifory said. “Everybody did well and you don’t want anyone going home thinking because they did not win they aren’t any good, especially the children. That was tough, because I didn’t want that to be anything a kid went through.”
He urged anyone interested in pursuing their talents to be tenacious, relentless and passionate. Purifory also said he looks forward to seeing the talent show grow through the years.
Freeman already said BICC plans to host the second “So You Think You’ve Got Talent” show next spring. The event is set to be an annual fundraiser for BICC’s Starfish program.
“Starfish has been honored to work with many children. In fact, we have worked with hundreds of children,” Freeman said. “We have established a quality, evidence-based program which partners with parents and care-givers in their homes to help them be the first teachers to their children.”
Special thanks were given by Freeman to Ralph Buckner Funeral Home as the gold star partner, HowSwede Image Prints and Regions Bank as silver star partners and Sandy and Gay Moore as bronze star partners.
Brenda Hughes, BICC director, said the event was a success.
“It revealed so much talent that our community has,” Hughes said. “We are so thankful for the community support and for the performers who participated. We just thank God for all he has done for us.”