Have you got talent? It’s your time to shine!

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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Is there a Carrie Underwood among us?

How ‘bout a gifted writer such as Ernest Hemingway; or another Georgia O’Keeffe to demonstrate their artistic side; or perhaps someone locally waiting in the wings to match the legendary jazz pianist skills of the late, great Thelonious Monk?

Talent is found in different formats. It’s not just limited to having a great voice or being able to play a musical instrument with precision. Perhaps you are a highly skilled magician, or very imaginative as you sit in front of a blank canvas with a paint brush and a color palette. Perhaps you feel comfortable telling jokes in front of an audience, or maybe you’re light on your feet and a great dancer.

Whatever talent you have, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index wants to showcase it. We are seeking local singers, dancers, musicians, poets/book authors, artists, etc. to write short feature articles on, and we can accomplish that without interrupting your daily schedule. Through email, we can send out a simple, fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire, to which you can answer and return electronically along with a photo. If available you can send a video link of you engaged in your talent.

Once we build up enough candidates, we will begin featuring our local talent bi-monthly while recruiting additional individuals in an effort to keep it going throughout the year.

You might be surprised to discover that your next-door neighbor is an aspiring singer/songwriter, or a world-class guitar player, or a nationally-recognized author, or the next Rembrandt.

We’re doing this in conjunction with Patricia Ferguson. She wants to make northeast North Carolina as the talent capital of the world. Patricia has founded Heritage Talent with a goal of attracting and showcasing talent from rural areas.

She and I both know that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if God has bestowed you with a gift, then you need to share it with the world.

Where do you think Chris Daughtry would be today if he had not auditioned for American Idol during its fifth season in 2006? He placed fourth that year, but his amazing talent was obvious….so much to the point that his star-studded career has led him to being the third most successful American Idol contestant in terms of record sales. He trails only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, who both won their respective seasons.

At the 50th Grammy Awards, his band was nominated for Best Rock Song for the single “It’s Not Over”. Since that time he has collaborated with musical icons such as Carlos Santana and Vince Gill.

And, by the way, Chris Daughtry hails from the tiny Northampton County town of Lasker (population 173).

I can’t speak for you, but my jaw dropped to the floor the first time I heard Brooke Simpson sing. Although that seems like an eternity ago, it was actually 2017 when she appeared as a contestant on the NBC show – “The Voice.” Her “voice” propelled her to a third-place finish.

Simpson returned to the national spotlight again in 2021 as a contestant on America’s Got Talent. There, in front of millions of TV viewers, Brooke shared her enormous singing talent while also inspiring female Native Americans to follow their dreams in life. She placed fourth in that competition.

If you don’t already know of Brooke Simpson’s background, she was born and raised in the Halifax County community of Hollister, NC (population 689).

In 2019, Brennan Lassiter was among the early contestants in the blind audition round chosen to advance on “The Voice.” Lassiter delivered a powerful rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” and turned all four chairs of the judges – Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, and Blake Shelton.

Even though she didn’t advance far in that national competition, the then 17-year-old turned a lot of heads. Not bad for a young girl who once lived in the Ahoskie area while her grandfather, Rev. Johnny Baker, was the pastor at Union Baptist Church.

In March of last year, Deion Warren wowed the judges on “The Voice” with his performance of “Shallow” – originally performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. After his song, Warren had three judges to choose from and he selected award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend as his mentor.

While his voice was strong, so was the level of talent during that particular season of the TV show. He was eliminated in the second round, but even then had made a name for himself as he still continues to perform at events and festivals today as well as within his church.

Warren, a 2011 graduate of Northampton County High School, hails from Conway, NC (population 745).

And now we have the amazing voice of Tobias Hill to enjoy.

During the recent, March 21 episode of American Idol – now celebrating its 20th season – Hill performed “Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder, accompanying himself on the piano while he sang. He then showed off a few of his dance moves as well.

American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie all had positive comments about Hill’s performance, and awarded the 26-year-old singer a coveted Golden Ticket – which secures his place in the next round as this national competition moves to Hollywood, California.

And unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, Hill is a 2014 graduate of Hertford County Early College, and went on to earn a degree in music from North Carolina A&T University. His hometown is Como, NC (population 104).

Have you realized the point I’m making with all these individual references? Look at where they’re all from….Smalltown USA, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream. And for some, that dream still continues.

Just remember one thing: it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but rather about the size of the fight in the dog.

Roanoke-Chowan Publications, LLC is searching for individuals in our four-county area who possess a talent in art, music, writing, etc.

It’s your time to shine. Mail or email your name, address and phone number along with a brief description of your talent to: Roanoke-Chowan Publications, LLC, Attention: Cal Bryant, PO Box 1325, Ahoskie, NC or email to cal.bryant@r-cnews.com.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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