Showcasing young talent

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thirteen young performers either sang, danced or played instruments, including the piano and clarinet, Sunday afternoon during the inaugural Lunenburg’s Got Talent, with three emerging as winners who each received checks for $500 from the Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce (LCCC).

The event, held in Central High School’s gymnasium, featured three different divisions based on age: elementary school (grades 1-5), middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12).

Tenth-grader Gabrielle Aubel won the high school division, eighth-grader Inka Winters won the middle school division and fifth-grader Presley Pulliam won the elementary school division.

MeriPage Spencer, who fills several roles for Lunenburg County Public Schools, was chosen by LCCC President Mel Payne to chair the Lunenburg’s Got Talent Committee and put the event together.

As the gym emptied following the conclusion of the competition Sunday, Spencer said, “I think it went really, really well, and I was pleased with the crowd, too. … The biggest thing, though, is putting money in the hands of some of these kids.”

She said the event was the brainchild of Payne, who was not able to attend due to a family illness.

The intent of the event, she said, was entertainment for the area, “but it’s also to let some of these kids shine who may not otherwise have an opportunity, and there’s a nice prize that comes with first place … Hopefully, maybe they’ll be able to use that money to do something that they have never been able to do before.”

Spencer, Payne and fellow committee members Mike Hankins, Patricia Mahaney and Pat Israel have been working behind the scenes on the competition since the fall.

“We had auditions in February,” Spencer said, noting 30-some people signed up. “So, we narrowed it down to four contestants for each age group from that.”

In the high school division, Courtney Brostek and Colton Hinkle competed as a duo, bringing the total number of actual competitors to 13.

It ended up that all of those participating in the event happened to be public school students, but Spencer said that “anybody who lived in Lunenburg could audition for it.”

Kenbridge Elementary School and Victoria Elementary School had two representatives apiece.

Photo by Titus Mohler
MeriPage Spencer, standing on left, and LCCC Vice President Mike Hankins, standing on right, assist Lunenburg’s Got Talent judges, seated from left, Gary Taggart, Barry Carnes and Gary Hickman.

In the high school division, Aubel won with her singing performance of “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

Taking second place was Alexis Elam, who sang “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride. Placing third were Brostek and Hinkle, who performed a medley of songs on the clarinet and piano, respectively. Jaydah Mitchell, who sang “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, received honorable mention.

In the middle school division, Winters emerged as the winner with her acapella singing performance of “House of Gold” by Twenty One Pilots. She dedicated her performance to her grandmother, Elizabeth Winters.

“It wasn’t really about the winning,” Inka said. “I just wanted to let my grandma know that I do love her because she’s done a lot for me, and she’s been there for most of my life when my parents were incapable of taking care of us — all seven of us.”

Inka said she was quite nervous and choked up a little, “but I think I did really good, and I’m proud of my performance.”

Taking second place was Mitch Green, who sang “Chicks Dig It” by Chris Cagle. In third place was Alexsis Pegram, who sang “Love Triangle” by RaeLynn. Alexis Smith, singing “Pompeii” by Bastille, received honorable mention.

In the elementary school division, Pulliam won after performing a lyrical dance with acrobatic components to the song, “Thy Will,” by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family.

“(It) didn’t matter if I won or not,” Pulliam said, indicating she just wanted to do a good job.

Taking second place was Lacey Joyner, who performed an acrobatic dance to the song, “I’m Worth It.” In third place was Lane Bolter, who sang “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley. Grace Joyner, who played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Muffin Man” and “London Bridge” on the piano, received honorable mention.