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Johnson County young stars shine brightly during annual talent show

By Lacy Hilliard
Last Friday night, April 20, Heritage Hall was brimming with proud parents and community members alike, all eagerly awaiting the performances of a variety of talented Johnson County youths. The Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) sponsored talent show went off without a hitch; a challenging feat with more than two dozen performances of varying types to contend with. Master/Mistress of ceremony, Joe Herman and Betty Brown (JCCF board member), ensured that humor as well as organization ruled the emcee podium; even when timing called for unforeseen improvisation.
The Johnson County Talent Show was comprised of kids ranging from kindergarteners to high school seniors that had already proven their skills by winning at the school level. The talent show allows the winners of each school to compete against each other at his/her age specific level. Each participant was evaluated by several qualified guest judges, Thomas and Geraldine Purpur, Rick Fox, Terry Holley, and Mike and Bendy Shoulders (all non-residents), who were faced with the challenging task of judging the competition.
Kicking off the kindergarten through third grade group was Allison Sutherland. The adorable pint-sized Allison of Mountain City Elementary, delighted the crowd with her sugary-sweet vocal rendition of “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man.” Ellie Beth Youngblood, also of MCE, was up next with an action-packed dance and gymnastics routine that was overflowing with personality and moxie. Ricky Chen of Roan Creek Elementary was all smiles as he captained the piano bench with an impressive performance of Satie’s “Parade.” Glistening in a purple satin gown, Roan Creek student Brookanna Hutchins sang Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name.” Rhiannon Icenhour of Laurel Elementary sparkled much like her golden shoes as she sang “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Cindy Jones of Shady Valley Elementary performed the Wizard of Oz classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” complete with a detailed Dorothy costume. Shannon Ferguson who is home-schooled sang a loveable version of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” as she snuggled a plush bunny adding to the ‘nursery rhyme’ ambience of her performance.
Julia Jenkins began the grade four through six portion of the competition with thunderous velocity. Exhibiting vocal power far beyond her years, Julia belted out a stunning and literal translation of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” Next up was Josie Ward. Josie’s passionate and ethereal performance of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” soothed the audience. Rebecca Nowak tickled the ivories while displaying a dynamically advanced rendition of the classic “Irish Wedding Dance.” Not to be outdone, Doe Elementary student Courtney Brooks pulled off a flawless performance of the technically challenging and up tempo piano classic “Tarantella.” Connor Long accompanied by his father, Steven Long, on guitar, displayed pitch perfection in a strong country/bluegrass version of Barlow Girl’s “Never Alone.” Picking up the pace, Shea Elizabeth Huyard clogged her way into the hearts of the audience as she ended her performance by sweetly blowing a kiss. Cameryn Taylor and Sydney Osborne were the next contestants. The duo strutted and smiled while singing a fresh interpretation of Taylor Swift’s “Picture to Burn.” Concluding the grades four through six portion of the competition, Makayla Fritts showcased her talents as a pianist and vocalist with her brilliant performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” clicking her heels as she exited the stage.
Opening for the middle school contestants, the camouflage clad Courtney Stout gave a boot-stomping and country influenced clogging performance. Leah Ransom displayed exceptional tempo control as she breezed through Mozart’s “Suite in C Major.” Moriah Franklin, a dedicated flautist, made her woodwind sing while showcasing exceptional staccato phrasing in Tchaikovsky’s “Russian Dance.” All-American girl Bailey Spencer showed off her mature tone and superior vibrato. Closing the middle school portion was a unique exhibit by Cortney Wilson. Cortney played piano and harmonica simultaneously in an original rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
The grades 9-12 segment of the talent show proved to be the icing on a well decorated cake. Brother and sister pair Rachel and Daniel Ransom proved that talent runs in the family with an energetic piano duet. Trading registers mid-performance in an effort to share the spotlight, the siblings paused to share a bow at the end of their performance. Shaking things up a bit was Trevor Reece with an electric guitar solo. Patriotic but rock based, Trevor shed an impressive solo riff only to conclude with a clean version of our national anthem. Up next was Brad Harris and Matthew Presnell, both singing and playing guitar. Harris and Presnell displayed superior vocal harmonies in their catchy performance of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie.” Logan Vincent was reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan with his extraordinary cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” As if playing 12-string wasn’t impressive enough, Vincent also stayed true to the Neil Young classic with his folksy harmonica performance. Mikey Edington brought tremendous skill to the stage with a fantastic modern dance routine. Concluding the high school section was the energetic clogging pair of Tristan Clawson and Krista Warren. The partners boasted experience having performed together previously in Gatlinburg; they carried out their routine in perfect unison.
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