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Johnson County's young people display their talent

By: David Walter
Freelance writer

Friday night, April 19, was the eighth annual youth talent show at Heritage Hall in Mountain City. The packed theater was humming with excitement and anticipation as families eagerly awaited the performance of Johnson County’s youth. The event was held by the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF), a part of the East Tennessee Foundation. The Masters of Ceremony for the evening were Wanda Payne, a former Johnson County Schools teacher, and Joe Herman, President of Danny Herman Trucking.

The event was comprised of students who previously competed from different schools throughout the county. After winning talent shows at their corresponding schools, they had the opportunity last night to perform with other students from their own grade levels. The judges for the kindergarten through third grade and seventh through eighth grade performers were Thomas Purpur, Geraldine Purpur, and Rick Fox. The judges for the fourth through sixth grade and ninth through twelfth grade performers were Terry Holley, Mike Shoulders, and Bendy Shoulders.

Kicking off the kindergarten through third grade contestants was second grader Lannie Green. Lannie presented three works of art titled “Autumn Red,” “Autumn Orange,” and “Autumn Yellow.” Each of these pieces of art exhibited beautiful landscape paintings. Next up were Ashlee and Jessie Williams, who sang a wonderful duet of “Highways in the Hedges.” Dressed in quintessential ole’ time Appalachian wear, second graders Kyla Tolliver and Grinnan Walker performed a rendition of “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Clogging her way across the stage, Gracie Grayson executed her routine without a hitch. She also has experience performing at other events such as fairs and pageants. Many of the participants have experience at other venues, including the next participant, Mattie Jones, who sings at local churches. She sang, “He’s Taking Care of Me,” for the talent show. The final contestants for the category were Hailey Chant and Damon Thompson; they performed a well-choreographed dance routine that included Damon lifting Hailey into the air several times with amazing unison.
The fourth through sixth graders also showed a great deal of talent. The first performer was Emily Hutchinson. Emily performed a version of “The Cup Song” and notes that she has been singing for as long as she can remember. Next was sixth grader Lindsey Wills. Lindsey has played piano for over two years and performed “Standing in the Need of Prayer.” Last night, Julia Jenkins performed a beautiful rendition of “Rolling in the Deep;” in her free time sings in churches and rest homes. The next show of talent came from Emma Robinson. Emma showed off her skills in making clothing and other accessories using ordinary duct tape. Part of her presentation was teaching the audience how to construct homemade duct tape flip-flops. The next group of students called themselves “The Basics.” This group was comprised of Taylor Parsons, Sydney Souder, Ty Youngblood, and Preston Smith. They performed a collaborative display of their skills by singing, dancing, clogging, and playing several instruments.
Channie Herman also had the opportunity to show off her clogging skills. Channie has been clogging for three years and performed Friday night to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” Next on stage was sixth grader Kelly Dugger. Using her experience of over two years of singing, Kelly sang and rapped to the Gym Class Heroes song, “Stereo Hearts.” Finishing off the wide array of acts in the fourth through sixth grade category was Rebecca Nowak. Rebecca performed a piece on the piano, which she has been playing for the past three years.

Kicking off the performances for the seventh through eighth grade category was Shea Huyard. Shea put on a wonderful show with her talent for clogging. She has been clogging for seven years and noted that she sometimes would rather clog than walk. Next up was seventh grader Macy Oxentine who sang a beautiful song which exhibited the fact she has been singing her entire life. Courtney Rice and Summer Moretz are also seventh graders and additionally share lifetime involvement in their individual talents, which include both dancing and gymnastics. Next on stage was Josie Ward. Josie also showed off dual talents by performing on piano while singing “Stay” by Rihanna. Finishing the category of seventh through eighth graders was Leah Ransom. Leah also exhibited her talent on the piano. She gracefully played “Sonatina No. 5 in C Minor.”
To complete an evening full of talent and amazing performers was the group of contestants from the ninth through twelfth grades. Leading the group was Daniel Ransom, who played “Regiment March” on the piano. Daniel is active in the community and has performed at state events. Up next was Moriah Franklin, who also showed off her penchant for music. Moriah played “Spanish Caprice” on the flute, but also plays piano, violin, and the organ.

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