'Fort Meade's Got Talent' draws performers, crowd
Record crowd turns out for annual entertainment competition
By Lisa R. Rhodes
"I appreciate you coming out tonight," Francisco Jamison, Child, Youth and School Services administrator and the host, director and executive producer of the show, said to the audience.
Jamison said CYSS considered delaying the show for one hour but "it never came to that."
The two-hour show, which was held at McGill Training Center and sponsored by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, drew the biggest crowd since its inception in 2008.
"The show gets bigger and better every year," Jamison told the audience.
More than 20 adults and youths performed and were evaluated by a panel of judges from the Army's Festival of the Arts and Recreation Program, as well as judges from the U.S. Army Field Band.
Audrey Rothstein, wife of Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein, also was a judge.
"I think it was awesome," she said after the event. "It was so inspiring. ... They were so brave to get up there and perform and do a great job."
Jennifer Augustine, technical director for procurement at the Defense Information Systems Agency, was the first-place winner in the adult division for her stirring solo performance of "Someone Like You," a song written by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse for the Broadway musical "Jekyll and Hyde."
Augustine, wife of Navy Chief Petty Officer James Augustine, senior enlisted leader for the Navy's European Command, J2, called the experience "wonderful" and "so much fun."
"It is one of my favorite songs of all time," she said. "It's an uplifting, meaningful and beautiful song. It fits my voice. It was the perfect song for me to choose."
Zach Campbell, 16, won first place in the youth division for his rhythmic guitar solo and vocal of "Geek In Pink" by Jason Mraz, a pop-rock singer and guitarist.
Zach, whose father is retired Navy Commander Marvin Campbell, said it was "cool" to take first place.
"I was happy to be in the competition," the home-schooled student said. "It was cool to meet all the contestants. Winning was a benefit."
As first-place winners, Augustine and Zach each receive a cash prize of $250. Second-place winners in both divisions receive a cash prize of $150. Third-place winners receive $90.
The goal of the Army's Festival of the Arts and Recreation Program is to "provide opportunities for Soldiers and their family members and other authorized FMWR patrons to participate in garrison community recreation programs and special events that promote skill development, the fine arts, performing arts and general recreation," according to the show's brochure.
"This is incredible; Team Meade certainly has talent," Col. Edward C. Rothstein said to the audience just before the winners were announced. "It was fantastic talent that we saw this evening."
Gregory Mason, a budget analyst at Defense Media Activity, won second place in the adult division for his moving solo of the contemporary gospel song, "Rain On Us," written and performed by gospel singer Earnest Pugh.
Navy Lt. Col. Joseph Holiday of the Naval Information Operations Command Maryland took third place in the adult division for his solo performance of "Down In the Hole" by Alice In Chains, a 1990s grunge band.
"I was a bit surprised," Holiday said of his win. "It's an unconventional genre of music. I was excited that the judges appreciated one of my favorite kinds of music from the 1990s."
In the youth division, Zach's younger brother Josh Campbell won second place for his solo of "So Sick" by R&B singer Ne-Yo.
And just like Ne-Yo, the 14-year-old performed the song wearing a black fedora.
"I think it's great," Josh said of his win.
He said he selected "So Sick" because it is "upbeat" and could "get the crowd going."
The third-place youth division winner, 9-year-old Kadin Redente, son of Tech Sgts. Michael and Jennifer Redente, performed magic tricks with the help of Col. Edward C. Rothstein.
"I'm so excited; I can't believe it," said Kadin, a fourth-grader at High Point Elementary School in Pasenda, after the show. "I'm so happy."
Event highlights included a solo performance by Stacy Echard, special events coordinator for FMWR, who sang "Before He Cheats," the hit song made popular by country singers Trisha Yearwood and Carrie Underwood.
"It's a fun, party song," said Echard, who was asked to perform when an ill adult contestant dropped out of the show. "I'm a karaoke junkie."
Imani Hinson, a freshman at Columbia's Atholton High School, recited "Color," a moving poem she wrote about the need to eliminate racism.
"It was so nerve-wracking," the 14-year-old said of her performance.
The daughter of Lt. Col. Andre Hinson of 1st Recruiting Brigade, Imani said she wrote the poem in fifth grade and that many people have encouraged her to recite it in public.
"People have told me I can move people and make change," she said.
Spc. Mercedes MacKillop of the 327th Signal Company brought the audience to its feet with her rendition of "Movin' On Up," the theme from the 1970s TV sitcom "The Jeffersons."
"I wanted people to have a good time," MacKillop said. "As long as I entertain the crowd, that's better than winning."
The show's finale´ was a rousing performance by all the contestants of the Ike and Tina Turner R&B hit, "Proud Mary."
Among those in the audience was Lisa Ivory, who came to scout for talent for her entertainment company, Onez Entertainment in Odenton.
"It was a good turnout and pretty good talent," Ivory said. "There's potential talent to grow."
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