Some clung to their guitars, others to CDs, and a few to the arms of supportive parents.
The emotions ranged from extreme nervousness to relative calm, as contestants waited Tuesday night in the Lugoff Elgin High auditorium for their shot at glory – Kershaw County style.
“Contestant No. 1, if you will just take the stage and give Ms. Patty your CD.”
And so began three nights of auditions for this year’s Kershaw County’s Got Talent, wrapping up tonight at the Fine Arts Center as contestants compete to secure one of 20 spots in the Sept. 15 finale competition.
“This gives them an opportunity to shine in their community,” said Jane Peterson of the Fine Arts Center.
While the event, in its third year, encourages talents of all types, musical acts have dominated.
Camerancq Peake, 7, admitted to a “little bit” of nerves as she prepared to go before the three-judge panel and a scattering of audience members, the majority contestants and family members. But the youngster was anything but shy as she confidently belted out a larger-than-pint-sized version of “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns.
This wasn’t her first curtain call, after all.
“She sings in front of her church (Spears Creek Baptist) a good bit,” Cameran’s mother, Jennifer, said shortly before she and her husband, Josh, seemingly channeled their daughter throughout her performance, hanging on every chord and anticipating every phrase.
Thirteen-year-old Camden Middle School student Anna Ferris also vouched for the significance of family support. Anna, who sang “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans while playing guitar, moved to the area with her family from Ohio in June.
“I couldn’t be here without them, literally,” she said of her parents Paul and Tina, who drove her to the auditions.
This year’s judges – Hope Deese, Mary Ann Hurst and Dan Riddick – offered a lesson in honesty and diplomacy as they encouraged performers while suggesting ways they could improve their acts.
“Don’t drown your voice with the guitar.” “Look at the audience.” “Change your tone.”
Soaking in every word was 6-year-old Matthias Fox, who donned a suit as he auditioned with Justin Bieber’s “Pray.”
Peterson said while competitive, contestants are generally supportive and respect each other’s talents.
“Last year, all of the finalists really pulled for each other,” she said. “It’s great to highlight the talent that can be found in our community.”
This year’s competition includes a youth division for ages 6-15, and an adult division for ages 16 and older. The change was prompted by the growth in the event the first two years.
“We went from mostly youth to a great combination of youth and adults last year,” Peterson said. “We felt that comparing a dynamic and talented 6-year-old to a seasoned adult wasn’t fair. There really are a lot of talented people in Kershaw County.”
The winners of Kershaw County’s Got Talent will receive cash prizes, season ticket packets from the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, and an opportunity to perform at a later date.