The results are in and West Texas Talent Search is a hit with the local crowd.
More than 250 people cheered on the 27 acts that competed for a chance at $1,000 in cash and prizes last week at the historic Ector Theatre. Saturday, the top 14 competitors, as voted by the audience, will duke it out in the final race to be winner.
The competition is about to get a lot tougher. The first half of Saturday’s show will feature the finalists in pairs and groups as they are assigned songs to perform from movie musicals, such as “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls.” In the second half of the show, competitors choose their own songs to perform.
Daniel Ryan, producer and director of the show, said it’s a way to challenge the competitors with unfamiliar material.
This is the second year that Ryan has formed the West Texas Talent Search, with competitors ranging from 5 to 40 and coming from all around the Permian Basin.
“It’s great for this area, because there’s a lot of untapped talent,” Ryan said. “People want to perform, but they don’t have a venue to perform. It’s great to have a place for people to express themselves.”
The competition brought plenty of musicians out of the woodwork as well as some not so common talents, including a poet and a visual illusionist. Ryan said he’s proud of the people who entered this year’s show, giving a greater variety of talents to entertain the audience.
Bo Williamson, one of the contestants, performed as Enigma, an act of visual entertainment. During his performance, Williamson created “visual illusions” using glow sticks choreographed to dance with the soundtrack of electronic musician DJ Tiesto.
“I’m very unique. What I do is something that most people have never even seen before,” Williamson said. “Originality will definitely be a strong point in the competition. I’m not at all intimidated or worried.”
Williamson is no stranger to talent competitions. He recently competed in the top 400 auditions of “America’s Got Talent” with his act. The Colorado City native said he competes in talent shows because he loves the experience of performing.
Jennifer Rodriguez is one of the many singers on the talent search roster. After auditioning for “American Idol” three years ago, Rodriguez said she found this competition a little more difficult with two friends also in the running for the prize.
“I don’t like competing against friends,” Rodriguez said. “We’re all looking to win. But if one of us wins, it wouldn’t be too bad.”
Rodriguez sang Carrie Underwood’s “Change” to emphasize the competition’s charitable side. Proceeds for the event go to Family Promise of Odessa and the Presidential Museum.
“I heard it, and I just got chills,” Rodriguez said of Underwood’s “Change.” “It’s kind of about getting up and doing something for other people,” she said of the song’s meaning.
With the competitors so enthusiastic about winning, Ryan said it’s hard to be the one who announces that they can’t continue in the competition.
“That’s the second to worst part about it,” he said. “You have to be the one to say I’m sorry.”
Ryan said the worst part of the show is spending at least five months preparing, scouting karaoke bars, finding sponsors and even choosing the charities.
“I really hope the community supports the talent and comes out and sees them to help us select a good winner to represent this area,” Ryan said.
WEST TEXAS TALENT SEARCH TOP 14 FINALISTS
>> “Cami” Keiona White, singer, Odessa.
>> Padlock, original instrumental rock band, Odessa.
>> Nathan Nicholas, singer and musician, Odessa.
>> Jennifer Rodriguez, singer, Odessa.
>> Shane Calvert, singer, songwriter and musician, Iraan.
>> Mae Harvey, singer and musician, Midland.
>> Corey Smith, singer and songwriter, Odessa.
>> Marchette Dewberry, singer, Midland.
>> Asher Noel, original singing and songwriting band, Odessa.
>> Enigma, visual entertainment, Odessa.
>> Tavias Allen, dancer, Odessa.
>> Casi Casparis, singer, Odessa.
>> Bianca Washington, singer, Odessa.
>> Cody Brunette, singer and musician, Odessa.