Abingdon Talent Show
Highlands Festival Event Showcases Area Youth
By AMBER TUNNELL | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | August 07, 2010*** Published Thursday, Aug. 5 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, Va. – After Alex Gibson, 15, sang "The Trouble with Love Is," she was asked why she wasn't on "American Idol."
Despite Wednesday night's rain, Gibson and several other youth in the area participated in "Abingdon's Got Talent," a youth talent show organized in conjunction with the Virginia Highlands Festival at the Abingdon Market Pavilion.
Designed to mirror the hit television show "America's Got Talent," the Abingdon event showcased a range of talents, from singing to clogging to signing.
The participants were between 7 and 19 years old. Any youth in that age group in the Tri-Cities could participate.
Gibson took first place for her performance of Kelly Clarkson's song. Prior to the competition, she had sung at weddings, she said.
Gibson was among many talented youth performing Wednesday.
Jessica Nunley, 19, from Abingdon, Va., won third place for her performance of Miranda Lambert's "Famous in a Small Town."
"I've been singing since I've been able to talk," Nunley said, adding that she had previously performed at the Barter Theater and other places.
Although she said she can sing other genres: "Country is my thing."
Abingdon Mayor Ed Morgan, who helped judge the competition, jokingly said afterward, "I think you're famous in this small town."
Cassandra Brooks, 13, from Johnson City, Tenn., sang "Part of Your World" from the Disney show, "My Little Mermaid."
"I love being able to stand on a stage and pull out a voice that nobody thinks I can do," Brooks said after her performance. She also said she loves singing Broadway songs and hopes to one day have a career in singing.
The youngest participant, Carla Via, 7, from Abingdon, Va., said she has been singing "as long as I remember."
Decked out in a hot pink and purple shirt with hot pink sunglasses, Via sang Miley Cyrus' song, "Let's Get Crazy."
An interesting turn to the night occurred when Katie Salyers, 15, experienced a glitch when her music would not play for her song. Instead of her original selection, she sung the Beatle's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" without music.
Rebekah Bowman, 14, from Bristol, Tenn., presented a rather unusual talent: She performed sign language to the song "Blessed" by Rachel Lampa.
"I get pretty excited, pretty pumped," Bowman said of the times she signs to music. "This is my passion. I plan on doing it pretty much my whole life."
Currently, Bowman signs and sings at her church, The Servants House, in Abingdon, Va., every Sunday.
Two cloggers also participated in the show. Kara Stewart, 12, from Glade Springs, Va., clogged to Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body" and Kayla Thomas, 10, clogged to Sean Kingston's "Fire Burning."
Additionally, two bands performed: the five-person "Daisi Rain" and the two-person "Young Souls."
"Young Souls" changed the tone of the evening by performing their original hip hop song, "Let's Figure It Out."
Lastly, Nick Williams, 18, rapped his own song, "My Melody," and won second place in the competition.
Morgan said he was impressed with the youth he saw.
"We've had capable kids and I'm glad I could be a part of it," Morgan said. "We've had a good selection of youth events. ... I hope this will be one event that we can grow in the future."