Odessa’s Got Talent on stage this weekend

The BitterWater Band perform on stage for Odessa’s Got Talent benefitting the Permian Basin Mission Center Friday night, April 29, 2022, at First Baptist Church. (Odessa American/Eli Hartman)

By Alix Batte

Odessa’s Got Talent has a roster of local talent all competing while also supporting the Permian Basin Mission Center.

Odessa’s Got Talent will take place on June 1 at the Ector Theatre. Tickets can be bought through the Ector Theatre for the fourth year of Odessa’s Got Talent. Last year, the show had a good turnout of talented Odessans, and this year has a packed playbill all to support the local nonprofit.

Founded in 1998, the Permian Basin Mission Center serves the community by providing for any needs the community might face. For qualifying clients, the PBMC offers various services to help set them up for success. Their services are extended to families, veterans, the homeless, and anyone else who might be in need.

The adult and youth divisions of Odessa’s Got Talent each have eight contestants. After a virtual round of auditions and deliberation from a panel of judges, the finalists have officially been chosen.

The lineup of the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent is made up of: Ally Bee, The Baker Sisters, Leon Carrasco, Isaac Gonzalez, Camila Rivera, Chara Shanklin, Lily Windham and Noel Zapata.

The adult division includes Emily Baker, Lauren Hensley-Barker, Kayli Beal, Samuel David, Amanda Gomez, Gisselle Lopez, Jen Maroney and Taylor Perry.

For some acts, the event is a family affair: The Baker Sisters consists of three sisters who are in the 3rd, 6th, and 9th grades. The musical sisters are the daughters of Emily Baker, who is competing in the adult division of the competition.

The prestigious People’s Choice Award will be presented at the end of the night to the contestant who receives the most votes from the audience. Throughout the show, fans and audience members will be able to vote on their favorite act of the night. Votes are $1 each and can be placed as many times as desired.

Anyone can vote for their choice for the People’s Choice Award on odessasgottalent.com at any time, but the event will be in person only. Tickets are available now online. Odessa’s Got Talent will take place on June 1 at the Ector Theatre.


Amanda Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a first-year finalist in this year’s Odessa’s Got Talent. She auditioned following the encouragement of a friend. Gomez grew up surrounded by music of just about every genre, and she quickly began to make that a priority of hers. Gomez got her start in music while attending a Fine Arts school in Laredo, where she was involved in choir. Despite a crippling stage fright in her early years, she challenged her comfort zone and began performing solo. Now, she loves performing music of all genres for the community.

Gomez is no stranger to performing on stage. In 2023 Gomez received the Grand Prize at the Permian Basin Fair & Expo Talent Show for her singing. During her audition, she caught the attention of the manager of the Music City Mall. This led to an invitation to perform at the mall. She can be found performing there two Saturdays a month.

Beyond the stage, Gomez expresses her creativity through the lens of a camera. She loves to capture the beauty of the Permian Basin with her photos.

Emily Baker

Emily Baker will be competing in the finals this year for the first time after years of scheduling conflicts. She’s excited to add the Odessa’s Got Talent stage to her long list of outlets for her passion for music. Since moving to Odessa with her husband over a decade and a half ago, Baker has become completely immersed in the musical scene of the Permian Basin.

Baker and her husband often perform together as a musical duo at venues like Flair Taverna and the Marriott, and many other local restaurants as well. She is also the lead female vocalist of Current Nine, a local cover band that delights audiences at weddings, parties, and corporate events all across Midland and Odessa.

Sharing her love of music is important to Baker. She teaches music at Midland Classical Academy, where she has the opportunity to introduce children to the magic of music. She also directs Voices of the Permian Basin, the children’s choir of the West Texas Symphony, as well as coaches 22 students in voice and piano lessons at a private studio.

Baker has lent her voice to several gospel albums, and has also recorded back-up vocals for numerous country artists. Alongside her husband and daughters, Baker also opened for Cody Asbury and Anne Wilson.

Gisselle Lopez

Having found her passion for music back in school, Gisselle Lopez is excited to be competing in the finals. She was giving solo singing performances at age 14 in the university band, and has been eager to perform ever since.

Lopez was recently invited to perform at “Working For a Cause, Not Applause,” a special cancer awareness event hosted at Music City Mall. Lopez loved the idea of using her talents for an organization with such a meaningful cause, something that also rings true with Odessa’s Got Talent and its role in funding the Permian Basin Mission Center. Lopez’ commitment to making a positive impact in the community is reflected in the passion she brings to such events.

Beyond her performances at events, Lopez plays a pivotal role in her church as a worship leader, where she continues to inspire and uplift congregants through her heartfelt renditions. Her role as a worship leader not only highlights her musical prowess but also underscores her deep-rooted faith and unwavering dedication to serving others.

Lopez is excited to bring her talents to the Odessa’s Got Talent stage and hopes to provide some excitement for the community while working to raise funds for the Mission Center.

Jen Maroney

With a deep-rooted connection to faith and family as well as her community, Jen Maroney couldn’t be more thrilled to be supporting the Permian Basin Mission Center by competing in the finals of Odessa’s Got Talent. She’s participated in many community events over the years, and is eager to lend her voice to something with such a noble cause. Maroney currently lives in Granbury with her family, but the Odessa community still holds a special place in her heart.

Maroney is active in the community, and recently played the title role of Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” in BCE’s production of the beloved story, as well as Emily in Granbury Theatre Company’s production of “Elf: The Musical.” She performed on stage at the Midland Community Theatre between 2016 to 2020, where she became even more familiar with performing on stage. She also leads worship at her home church, StoneWater Church.

After winning The Voice of Granbury last year, Maroney is excited to be competing in Odessa’s Got Talent. With the support of her family, preparing for the event has been a fun experience that Maroney hopes will result in raising as much money for the Mission Center as possible.

Kayli Beal

Kayli Beal will be competing in the finals of this year’s Odessa’s Got Talent, and she couldn’t be more excited to be sharing her musical talents with her community. Beal grew up in a small town just outside of Austin, and after relocating to Odessa with her husband and beloved fur baby, Oakley, she feels right at home.

By day, Beal is a lead esthetician at the Woodhouse Day Spa. Her passion for music is always slipping into her free time, and she’s constantly looking for opportunities to bring music into her day.

Blessed with both passion and talent, Beal loves to create music and share it with her loved ones around her. Whether it’s singing with others, playing her guitar, or performing songs on her own, Beal feels her best when she’s surrounded by music. She frequently performs on the stages of various venues in the Odessa community, even venturing beyond the local areas to share her voice.

Beal is thrilled to be a part of such a fun competition. Odessa’s Got Talent provides not only the chance to perform in front of friends and family, but its true purpose of supporting the Permian Basin Mission Center makes the experience all the better.

Lauren Hensley-Barker

For Lauren Hensley-Barker, competing in the finals of Odessa’s Got Talent is a return to a stage she’s very comfortable on. Hensley-Barker has been singing all her life — even singing herself to sleep as a little girl, according to her mother. As an adult, she’s had countless experiences using her gift to perform at sporting events, local shows, and has even recorded an original song.

Odessa’s Got Talent is an exciting event for Hensley-Barker, and not just because she loves performing: this event will give her the opportunity to sing for her biological parents in person, something she’s dreamed of for quite some time. She always knew that music was a dream her biological parents were supportive of, and she is excited to share her talent with her whole family.

A passion for music has always been clear in every aspect of Hensley-Barker’s life. Today, she uses her talents at the Bush Convention Center. Though she doesn’t perform musical gigs with the same frequency she was once able to, she still loves to find ways to honor her passion for music. She’s competed in many local talent shows, not to mention The Voice and America’s Got Talent. Her favorite way to use her voice, however, is praising the Lord.

Hensley-Barker has competed in Odessa’s Got Talent twice before in years past, and she’s looking forward to reliving the experience.

Samuel David

Samuel David’s personal connection with music began when he was just 15 years old, when he performed at a local talent night. Ever since then, he’s been mesmerized by the idea of using his love for music as a way to impact the world around him.

David is well aware of the power that music can have on people, and his dream is to bring that to the world. He considers his passion and talent for music a blessing from God, and he aims to use that gift in a way that will bless others.

As he prepares to showcase his talent on the grand stage of Odessa’s Got Talent, David remains steadfast in his belief in the transformative power of music. With each chord strummed and every note sung, David aims to create an experience that resonates not only with the audience’s ears but also with their hearts. With the show doubling as a fundraiser for the Permian Basin Mission Center, Samuel sees an opportunity to harness the uplifting spirit of music to create positive change within the community.

Taylor Perry

Taylor Perry is ready to share his musical talents with his community as a finalist in Odessa’s Got Talent this weekend. Perry has always been interested in music, and he has worked hard to hone his skills. Over 10 years ago, Perry began to teach himself how to play the guitar, and there was no stopping him after that. With the encouragement from his parents propelling him forward, Perry has always moved in pursuit of a career in music.

Tragedy struck in 2018 when Perry lost his grandfather. Music then became a grounding tool that allowed him to work through his grief. Armed with the knowledge that music can provide healing, comfort, and peace even in the most confusing times, Perry is even more determined than ever to become a successful musician.

With dreams of becoming a country music star, Perry is excited to make his Odessa’s Got Talent debut. Though he used to play music at Odessa College, Perry’s performances are typically reserved for more private spaces. Odessa’s Got Talent will provide the perfect opportunity for Perry to show his passion to more than friends and family, all while supporting a great cause.


Ally Bee

Ally Bee started her singing career in a talent show at age 5 and has participated in many talent shows in the 11 years since then. As a finalist in the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent, she’s excited to keep that tradition going strong. Having participated in Odessa’s Got Talent last year as well, Bee will be one of several contestants making a return to the stage.

Bee is active in the community of the Permian Basin, and she regularly looks for opportunities to use her talents to bring joy to those around her. She has performed the National Anthem at several sporting events in the community over the years, becoming a regular performer at Midland RockHounds games. This passion for the community is one of the driving forces of Bee’s decision to participate in Odessa’s Got Talent another year. The event’s goal of raising money for the Permian Basin Mission Center speaks to Bee’s heart, and she is excited to play a role in such a noble cause.

Bee hopes to one day take her experience with showing off her wonderful talents to another level altogether by auditioning for American Idol. From there, she envisions herself one day enjoying the fruits of her labor as a successful recording artist.

The Baker Sisters

A triple-pronged finalist in the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent, The Baker Sisters is made up of 3 sisters. Piper, Keller, and Harper Baker have been singing all their lives and they’re eager to bring their harmonies to the Odessa’s Got Talent stage.

Their musical talents are something they share with their mother, who is also participating in the event this year. The sisters have been performing for several years now with their family. Having gone viral for a video performing a song with the rest of their family in the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown, the musical Bakers are no strangers to sharing their talents. Now, four years later, the girls are performing on their own as a trio.

This will not be the first time the girls will be singing together on their own. They have performed the National Anthem in many of the community’s sporting events, including at Midland RockHounds games. They’ve also had opportunities to open for artists such as Cory Asbury and Ann Wilson.

Those around them have encouraged the three sisters to showcase their talents through Odessa’s Got Talent in past years, but they have always found themselves too busy with their overlapping schedules to make it a reality. After years of consideration, The Baker Sisters have finally been able to audition for Odessa’s Got Talent. That paid off in a big way, and the group has made it all the way to the finals, where they will be performing as the only group in the entire event.

Camila Rivera

Camila Rivera will be competing for a chance to win the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent next month, something that will come as no surprise to anyone who knows her and her passion for music. No stranger to the competition, Rivera was awarded the prestigious People’s Choice Award back in 2022, and she is eager to return to this year’s show.

Rivera has loved music for her entire life, and it doesn’t seem like that love will be dimming any time soon. Years of cultivating her skills have resulted in a remarkable talent that she loves to share, and she has big dreams of becoming a successful music artist. Rivera would one day love to record her own music to share with the world. Those dreams of becoming a great musician have already made quite a bit of headway with her past experience with Odessa’s Got Talent, and she’s excited to one day see them through.

Though she’s had quite a bit of success in past years of Odessa’s Got Talent, Rivera is excited to have the chance to show the community of the Permian Basin how much she has grown as a musician since her last win. Returning to the stage of Odessa’s Got Talent gives Rivera the perfect opportunity to reveal the improvements in both her voice and stage presence that she has worked on with time.

Chara Shanklin

Competing in the finals of the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent with a stunning violin performance is Chara Shanklin. Shanklin has been playing the violin for 3 years, and she is incredibly excited to bring that skill to the Odessa’s Got Talent stage.

This will be Shanklin’s first time competing in a talent show like this event, but she is excited for the experience. She auditioned for Odessa’s Got Talent at the urging of her mother. She is now the only instrument-focused act in the entire show.

Musical instruments are found everywhere in Shanklin’s life. Beyond the violin, she also plays the guitar, the bass, the oboe, and the clarinet. Regularly playing one of her many instruments at her church, Shanklin is no stranger to the stage. She is also a second-year member of the All Region Orchestra. Not one to be limited to instruments, Shanklin also enjoys singing, and she has held a chair in the All Region Choir for the last three years.

After high school, Shanklin plans to attend Berklee College of Music, where she will major in music education. She intends to become a music teacher for elementary age students, inspiring young minds to discover their own love of music.

Isaac Gonzalez

13-year-old Isaac Gonzalez is ready to showcase his musical talents in the finals of the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent. An 8th grader at IDEA Yukon, Gonzalez competed in the show last year as well, where he won first place. Fueled by that win, he is excited to be making another appearance on the Odessa’s Got Talent stage. He isn’t only interested in prizes, though: Gonzalez is most excited by the event’s focus on supporting the Permian Basin Mission Center.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gonzalez used that time as an opportunity to teach himself to play the piano. That new skill was added to an already impressive list of creative talents that Gonzalez uses to express himself. When he’s not singing and playing the piano, Gonzalez enjoys drawing, writing, and acting. He’s no stranger to playing for crowds, either; he can be found playing in the Youth Worship Team at Mid-Cities Church.

Gonzalez is eager to raise money for the Permian Basin Mission Center, and he plans to use the prize money for his college career upon graduation. He dreams of one day becoming a successful Christian singer, where he can use his platform to inspire the world with messages of faith, hope, and redemption.

Leon Carrasco

Leon Carrasco has been a musician all his life, and as a finalist in the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent, he has an opportunity to share that passion with his community. Carrasco is by no means a stranger to performing and has competed in several musical competitions in the past.

Shortly after discovering his musical abilities, he found himself performing on stage with a band called Never2Young. The band had the opportunity to compete in the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis in 2023, where they won the youth category. Carrasco competed in the International Blues Challenge again this year with another band, a duo called Twice As Nice, and they ranked 12 out of 217 bands globally.

Carrasco enjoys songwriting and crafting music, and he has composed over 30 original songs. His passion for music is a strong one, and he intends to make that passion into a career one day. Despite such a focus on his personal music career, however, Carrasco maintains a balanced life as a senior at Legacy High School in Midland, where he plays catcher on the varsity baseball team as well as plays in the Legacy jazz band.

Carrasco plans to deepen his musical knowledge at South Plains College this fall.

Lily Windham

Lily Windham has made it to the finals of the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent. From a young age, Windham has loved being involved in music and theatre. At the age of 6, she performed in her first musical, and the rest is history.

In the decade since her first performance in the spotlight, Windham has committed to sharpening her talents, focusing her time on extracurriculars that give her a chance to grow in the fields she loves, such as Permian High School’s theatre, choir, and dance programs, the worship team at Community Bible Church, Basin Theatre Works, and several other organizations.

The opportunity to support an organization like the Permian Basin Rehab Center is a driving force behind Windham’s decision to participate in Odessa’s Got Talent. Windham is excited to be using her talents and passions to bring help and hope to those in her community who need it.

In the future, she plans to turn those talents into her career. Having received invitations to attend Julliard School’s Musical Theatre Intensive as well as the Musical Theatre Intensive at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. With her options in mind, Windham can’t wait to see where the future takes her and her passion for music!

Noel Zapata

As a finalist in the youth division of Odessa’s Got Talent, 15-year-old Noel Zapata is excited to be bringing his love for music to the stage. The Legacy High School sophomore began singing in the Saint Ann’s Spanish Choir when he was just 9 years old, and he’s been pursuing his love of music ever since.

His passion for music is something he takes great care to cultivate. After joining the Hispanic Cultural Center, Zapata taught himself how to play the trumpet. He later added the piano to his skillset, teaching himself how to play that instrument as well.

As first alternate in the Region Mariachi Band as well as first alternate in the State Men’s Choir, Zapata is no stranger to showcasing his musical talents on stage. He also recently qualified in the Texas State Solo and Ensemble contest, where he got to focus entirely on his singing. The sheer amount of musical organizations in Zapata’s life is a testimony to his passion and dedication to his craft.