The ten finalists in the 2018 Huntsville’s Got Talent (from left) Christina Hutt, Kristin Taylor, Justin McWilliam, Luke Murphy, Andrea Hill, Josie Robinson, Briar Summers, Zack Fitzsimmons, Ashley Hill, and Kasandra Bois.
The talent of Huntsville blew away judges and audience members yet again on Saturday night.
The second annual Huntsville’s Got Talent, which was created by Dr. Drew Markham, showcased some of Huntsville’s best amateur performers and raised more than $10,000 for Community Living Huntsville in the process, exceeding the $7,000 raised in 2017.
“We are honoured that we have been selected for the second year in a row to be the recipients of funds generated from this event,” said Cathy Stroud, Executive Director of Community Living Huntsville. “Drew attended one of our Celebrating Inclusion tours, mentioned he was moved by what he heard and wanted to do more.”
Markham’s idea for Huntsville’s Got Talent came from both his love for television talent shows as well as his drive to help people in the community. As Markham’s father was a social worker and heavily involved in helping eliminate the isolation of people in group homes, Markham wanted to keep that dream alive.
“Drew’s generosity has not only generated money for our organization, but he has helped us increase our community exposure, featured our All Abilities Dance Troupe, and truly supports building an inclusive community in Huntsville,” said Stroud.
The evening opened with a performance by last year’s Huntsville’s Got Talent Winner, Amy Wallace.
The four judges were then introduced: Andre Wahl, Tom Cross, Sue Campbell and, of course, Markham. While Markham has a passion for the talent industry, the other three judges who joined him on stage have decades of experience in the entertainment industry. Cross and Wahl are both music producers and Campbell owns Muskoka Dance Academy and is a former professional dancer.
Ten performers of all ages then took the stage including rappers, singers and even a contortionist. To get there all had to submit an audition video online; eight were chosen by judges and two ‘wild cards’ were chosen by online vote from the public. The 10 finalists were: Kasandra Bois, Andrea Hill, Ashley Hill, Christina Hutt, Zack Fitzsimmons, Justin McWilliam, Luke Murphy, Josie Robinson, Briar Summers, and Kristin Taylor.
After intermission, the All Abilities Dance Troupe from Community Living Huntsville took the stage to perform a choreographed dance to “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.
One of the top ten finalists, Zack Fitzsimmons, is a member of Community Living Huntsville himself.
“Community Living has been a blessing in my life. They have helped me more in my three months living in Huntsville than anywhere ever has!” said Fitzsimmons “They got me involved in volunteering at Hunters Bay Radio, helped me meet friends and even encouraged me to audition for Huntsville’s Got Talent.”
After speeches from both Markham and Stroud from Community Living Huntsville, the winners were announced.
First place went to contortionist-acrodancer Andrea Hill, followed by singer-songwriters Josie Robinson in second and Christina Hutt in third. All three finalists were awarded both cash prizes and trophies. The grand prize of $1,000 went to Hill while Robinson and Hutt received $200 and $100 respectively.
“I really didn’t think I ever had a chance of winning so I was shocked when they called my name,” exclaimed Hill.
Although she is just 15, Hill hopes to turn her love of dance and contortion into a career and even be a part of Cirque Du Soleil one day.
“Last year there weren’t many expectations as it was the first year and everything was new but we were all blown away,” said Markham. “This year the talent was a big jump up and we raised over $10,000 so that made tonight even better!”
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