Aug. 21--Make no mistake. Each year, it is abundantly apparent that the Valley's Got Talent.
The fifth annual area talent competition and fundraiser will be held at the Gallo Center for the Arts on Aug. 29-30. The popular event, co-sponsored by the Gallo Center and The Modesto Bee, has featured more than 100 local acts and brought in more than $74,000 to support the downtown Modesto performing arts center since it began in 2010.
"Valley's Got Talent is one of the great gems to come out of having the Gallo Center in our community," said Gallo Center CEO Lynn Dickerson. "I believe it can and will last for many years to come. There are so many talented people in our region, and every year, there's a new crop to choose from. It's a very competitive process, and the caliber of talent seems to improve with each passing year. We have just skimmed the surface of discovering local talent."
This year Valley's Got Talent will feature 50 performers as part of 25 acts competing in five categories: vocal, dance, instrumental, band and specialty. The contestants this year range in age from 12 to 61 and were chosen out of 100 applicants. The contest is modeled after popular TV shows like "America's Got Talent" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and is open to nonprofessional performers from Stanislaus, Merced, San Joaquin, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.
Past grand-prize winners of the contest have been Lindsay Pearce in 2010, Francesca Bavaro in 2011, The Sensations and Stop Motion Poetry in 2012 and Shelly Bort in 2013. Pearce went on to appear on both "The Glee Project" and "Glee."
"It's a wonderful way to showcase some of the amazing talent in our area," Dickerson said. "People who attend always leave impressed and awestruck at the quality of the performances. This isn't your kid's elementary school talent show."
The competition again is split into two nights. The Aug. 29 performance is the audience voting show; judges take over Saturday for the finals, with prizes being awarded.
As in years past, Emmy Award-winning Hollywood casting agent and Modesto native Robert Ulrich of "Glee" fame and his wife, actress and Ripon native Kim Johnston Ulrich from "Passions," will be among the judges. Rounding out that panel this year will be Gallo Center board President Marie Gallo, Gallo Center board Chairwoman Britta Foster, Gallo Center Arts Education Director Jim Johnson, Modesto Bee Editor Joe Kieta, KHOP Program Director MoJoe Roberts and Salon Salon co-owner Chris Johnson.
The contestants are vying for $6,500 in prize money, including the $1,500 E.&J. Gallo Winery Grand Prize. There will be $750 prizes each handed out for the Noah's Spring Water/7Up Vocal Talent Achievement Award, Crystal Creamery Band Talent Achievement Award, ATTY Instrumental Talent Achievement Award, KHOP 95.1 Specialty Talent Achievement Award, Salon Salon Dance Talent Achievement Award and the new Audience Favorite Award (sponsored by Cruisers, Prime Shine Car Wash & Valley Wealth Inc.). A $500 Paul M. Tischer Classical Music Scholarship also is given each year.
The Valley's Got Talent 2014 finalists are:
--Vocal: Duo Christopher Todd and Alida McKeon (who both will compete as solo artists in the category as well), Jon Corr, Iraya Cress, Corine Cyphers, Daniel Hernandez, Liliana Hernandez, DesireÉ Juanes, Kodi Mattox, Eliana Roberts, Megan Robertson, Carolina Stevens
--Dance: Sam Geber, Andrew Merrill, Eliana Montalvo
--Instrumental: Jelani Brown (violin), Daniel Davis (piano), Ryan Price (guitar)
--Specialty: Lexy Brown and Ian Hay (magic illusionists), Nathan Ignition (one-man band), Summer Krafft featuring Mattea Overstreet (spoken word)
--Band: Steelin' The Beat, Timeframe, Zephyr.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @marijkerowland.
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