After winning the Crowd Pleaser award last year, singer Elaine Watson walked away from the Lee’s Summit CARES Presents: Got Talent showcase with far more than the $500 scholarship she earned.
She had met many new people, entered her first talent competition and begun building her resume as a performer. All within weeks after leaving middle school.
“My participation last year was one of the most amazing decisions in my life,” said Watson, who will be a sophomore this fall at Lee’s Summit North High School. “After that I was then asked to perform at Downtown Days and Oktoberfest, and I got to participate in a radio interview.”
Watson, who turns 15 in July, returned this year for the eighth season of Got Talent and once again reached the finals. She will join more than two dozen other young performers from Lee’s Summit and Johnson County for the finale at 7 p.m. June 9 in the Lee’s Summit High School Performing Arts Center, 400 S.E. Blue Parkway.
The public is invited to watch the performers, which include a magician from Olathe, a hula-hoop artist, hip-hop and tap dancers, vocalists, instrumentalists, a ballerina and a seven-piece band. They are vying for one of four scholarships that together amount to $6,000.
Last year Watson sang “Hallelujah,” which she described as “the classic tearjerker.”
“I feel like that song is extremely important to some people, and I was told it brought tears to many eyes in the audience,” she said by email. “While I didn’t make the crowd laugh or necessarily smile, I think that it’s important to maintain a serious, emotional connection with your audience.”
This time, Watson promises to bring a little more soul to the competition.
Got Talent is open to young people 18 and under. This year, 45 acts tried out in front of three judges who have experience in the performing arts. The judges rated each performance on four criteria: ability, execution, stage presence and “wow” factor. The 18 acts with the highest ratings became finalists.
“Got Talent is a unique competition that celebrates the incredible diversity of talent within our Kansas City area youth,” said Rachel Segobia, executive director of Lee’s Summit CARES. “The show encourages young performers to pursue their passion in an affirming and supportive environment. Audience members are blown away year after year by the outstanding quality of talent on display.”
The event is the chief fundraiser for Lee’s Summit CARES, a nonprofit coalition that works to maintain a healthy, safe community for children and families in the Lee’s Summit area. It offers programs on parenting, character development and preventing substance use by young people.
Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased online at LSTalent.com or at Lee’s Summit area Price Chopper and HyVee stores. Senior citizens can buy discounted tickets for $10 at the HyVee at 310 S.W. Ward Road.
Besides Watson, Lee’s Summit residents participating in this year’s finals are Cooper Carr, Alexis Swope, Harrison Bresheers, Charity Hartman, Ryann Elliff, Reese Minter & Josh Luke, Dane Lackey, Kennedy Mitchell, Lauren Howard, Lauren Schwepker & Alec Bridges, Brea Hurst, Elizobette Cobler, Josephine Sibert, Kennedy Newell, Lucy Hammontree, Madison Grant, Allison Beech, Mia Sparks, Paige Jones, Ziaira Griffin and Simeon Prusia.
Johnson County performers are Alexa Boyd and Jordin MacKenzie of Leawood; Jaxie Smith of Shawnee; Neena Shankar of Overland Park; and Preston Stein of Olathe.
They will be judged by three Lee’s Summit alumni: Christina Burton, a singer, choreographer and UMKC instructor; Matt Lewis, an Elvis impersonator who is the executive producer of SimonWill Entertainment in Las Vegas; and Steve Serrano, head of programming and on-air personality at Mix 93.3 as well as entertainment/music correspondent for Better KC on KCTV5.
The finale of the Lee’s Summit CARES Presents: Got Talent showcase will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 9, in the Lee’s Summit High School Performing Arts Center, 400 S.E. Blue Parkway.
These finalists will perform:
Dance: Brea Hurst, Kennedy Newell, Lucy Hammontree, Paige Jones, Madison G & Allison B, Ziaira Griffin
Vocals: Alexa Boyd, Elaine Watson, Jaxie Smith, Jordin Mackenzie, Josephine Sibert, Neena Shankar, Mia Sparks
Instrumental: Dane Lackey Quintet, Clouds and Cannonfire (with vocals), Simeon Prusia (vocals with guitar), Elizobette Cobler (vocals with ukulele)
Magician: Preston Stein