One by one, contestants from the community will show off their talents and dazzle audience members and judges in an evening of fun entertainment in this year’s edition of Odessa’s Got Talent.

The event, which serves as a fundraiser for the Permian Basin Mission Center, will take place at 7 p.m. April 29 at First Baptist Church.

Eighteen finalists, split into youth and adult categories, were recently named finalists after turning in a virtual audition and making the cut. This year’s performers range from a pianist to a beat boxer to several singers and a few bands.

Those finalists will compete for a chance to win $9,000 in prize money.

“This year’s finalists have a wide variety of talent,” fundraising chair and board member of the Permian Basin Mission Center Cristy Batte said. “They’re really fantastic.”

The winners will receive a top prize as voted by the judges at the event. The judges for this year’s Odessa’s Got Talent are Shelby Landgraf, Sarah Johnson and Eric Baker.

There will be a People’s Choice Award of $1,000 that will be awarded to the finalist with the highest number of online votes. Voting for that award is open and can be done at

Auditions were held up until April 3. After that, the Permian Basin Mission Center board of directors then viewed each audition and determined the finalists who were announced the following week.

Batte said the number of people who auditioned was close to the same number as last year.

“The auditions were pretty similar,” Batte said. “We had more adults audition this year but the overall total is pretty close.”

This year’s finalists for the youth category include Areli Smith, Camila Rivera, Never Too Young, Samuel Chastain and Vincent Ramirez.

The adult finalists are Albert Hall and the 100, Ashley Simpson, BitterWater, Bryon Garrison, Capital Limits, Cristian, Grace Surmion, Juan Caamano, Kayla Dos Santos, Los Crazy Guys, Mikayla Heard, Molly Angela and Raeslyn Miller.

However, this year’s field of contestants will be slightly different than last year. Only three finalists who performed last year are back as Simpson, Miller and the band Los Crazy Guys.

Ashley Simpson performs at the Odessa’s Got Talent show Friday, June 18, 2021, at First Baptist Church. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

Last year, Simpson performed a dance routine involving a hula-hoop but this year, she’ll be performing as a singer.

Like many, Simpson is excited for this year’s Odessa’s Got Talent.

“It definitely feels like a brand new experience and the reason I say that is last year, I competed in what they call a completely different talent,” Simpson said. “Even though I’m back in my second year, it still feels like year number one. I loved the turnout and I loved to perform and share this experience with other people. It’s good to be back and I love what they’re trying to accomplish with the Permian Basin Mission Center.”

This year, Simpson will be performing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“It just seemed like the best song to show off my vocal range,” Simpson said. “Normally I sing country songs at karaoke venues and those are great but when you want to perform, this song brings so much emotion and it’s a very beautiful and powerful song and it gives me a chance to show off the dynamic brains that I have so that’s why I chose to do this song.”

She chose to do a vocal performance this year after being one of the few contestants that didn’t sing in last year’s Odessa’s Got Talent. She feels by doing a song, she’ll have a better chance at winning.

“Last year, there was one band and everyone else was a singer,” Simpson said. “I didn’t know if the judges didn’t know how to compare that to the other talents so I thought it might be easier to try something different.”

Like Simpson, Miller is also competing in the adult category.

The 2020 Permian graduate is currently a sophomore at Oklahoma City University, majoring in vocal music education and vocal performance along with a minor in studio art.

She’ll be making the trip back to Odessa to compete.

“When I found out that they were doing Odessa’s Got Talent again, I was beyond excited,” Miller said. “It provides a massive opportunity not only for me to get my name out there in the Odessa community but it also provides me an opportunity to show what I’ve been working on at a music school. That’s fun for me and of course, I love to do fundraisers and I love to help out the Odessa community because they’ve done so much for me and it’s a good way for me to get money in my pocket. I’m a broke college student but it’s always fun to have some opportunity to showcase my skills.”

Miller will be performing “Into the Unknown” from the Disney movie “Frozen 2,” electing to do the Panic at the Disco version instead of the Idina Menzel version.

“I wanted to do something that is a little bit edgy,” Miller said. “I know ‘Into the Unknown’ is a popular song and well-known especially among Disney fans and families so I wanted to push the bounds and instead of doing Idina Menzel, I might as well do something a little more punk rock-ish.”

At last year’s Odessa’s Got Talent, Miller performed “Maybe this Time” from “Cabaret.”

Like Simpson, Miller is also excited to come back and be among the finalists at this year’s show.

“I’m always happy to come back home to see my family and everything,” Miller said. “Since I made the finalists, I’m beyond excited to come home because I’ll be able to see some of my friends from last year that competed alongside me. I’m also going to meet new people and give them everything I’ve been working on and hopefully everyone enjoys not just my performance but Odessa’s Got Talent in general. I know last year, we had a good turnout so I’m hoping that with the coverage we’re getting and the people competing this year we have a major turnout even bigger than last year.”

Last year’s show was the inaugural event and due to the popularity of the event, Odessa’s Got Talent was brought back for this year.

However, there are a few differences, aside from the number of different finalists this year.

Last year’s Odessa’s Got Talent took place in the summer but this year, it will take place in the spring.

“We had feedback that people were gone a lot and thought maybe the summer wasn’t the best time for this competition so we moved it to the spring which is very busy, primarily for students, so students had a lot of conflicts,” Batte said. “There are a lot of great things going on but we had a lot of auditions so we’re happy with the talent. We missed some because of conflicts but we’re thrilled that we were able to see so much talent.”

Batte said last year’s show raised around $80,000. This year, the Mission Center is hopeful of raising $95,000.

“I feel like I know more of what to expect,” Batte said. “It’s going really well. I’m pleased at how smoothly it’s going. Frankly, it’s good to have one year in the books. We can improve on some things but last year went so well that we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Permian Basin Mission Center Executive Director Hector Aguilar talked about the many benefits of the fundraiser.

“We’re excited that we found something that our community can get behind and one that’s really fun for our community and the contestants,” Aguilar said. “It feels really exciting.”

The Mission Center is a local resource center for those in need.

“All our funding goes to help our low income community,” Aguilar said. “It’s really exciting that we can have something new and fresh for our community. Most of all, it’s really exciting to let our community know why we put the fundraiser on. The proceeds go to help our low income community with food, clothing and rent and utility assistance.”

Aguilar says they are still getting more sponsors for this year’s event. Those who are interested in being a sponsor or donating, can go to the Mission Center’s website at

Tickets can also be purchased at

“We’re hoping for a big turnout,” Aguilar said. “It takes a lot of funding to run an organization like ours. But we’re pretty excited and hopefully everyone will donate in some way or another.”

Meet the finalists for this year’s Odessa’s Got Talent