MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - --
Saturday night was filled with amusement rides, glowing light-sabers, popcorn, cotton candy and talent - talent that filled the air with giddy country songs and chill-inducing gospels. It got children out of their seats and dancing as the adults stood up to dance and clap along.
The Show Us Whatcha Got finals were held during Marine Corps Community Services’ Maynia at W.P.T. Hill Field, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, May 21. Twenty-one competitors took a chance and sang a variety of songs in front of hundreds of cheering attendants.
“We (host this competition) to see what kind of talent we have in our area,” said Marybeth LeMaire, outdoor recreation specialist for MCCS. “This year the turnout was very good.”
Show Us Whatcha Got is a showcase of local talent, held by MCCS as part of its Maynia celebration. Starting April 30, service members, family members and local Onslow county residents were able to compete for the $1,000 first-place prize. Judges started out with 53 contestants who were eventually narrowed down to the 21 who performed Saturday.
A panel of three judges gave points based on a 100-point scale. They evaluated each participant on their individual performance, showmanship and audience appeal. After all 21 performed their first song, judges narrowed that list down to nine singers. Each participant then had to perform another selection of their choice, from which the panel would choose the first, second and third place winners.
Contestants like 14-year-old Kharlin Villanueva caught the judges’ and audience’s attention with her small frame and booming voice.
“I practiced all week, like every night,” said Villanueva, a Lejeune High School student.
Villanueva performed Christina Aguilera’s “The Voice Within.” The judges exclaimed that at 14 years old, they would never have been able to perform that way.
“It’s really nerve-wrecking being up there,” said Villanueva. “I’ve performed in school recitals and other things, so I’m kind of used to it, but I still have to take about 100 deep breaths before going on stage. If I win, I’ll probably spend all the money on shoes,” she added with a smile.
Although the ninth grader did not win the grand prize, three other contestants were awarded for their performances. Third-place winner Alisa Springer claimed the $250, and Benjamin Bailey claimed the 2nd place prize of $500. Long-time performer Valerie Morales won $1,000 with her two songs.
“I like Valerie, she had good vocal control,” said LeMaire. “We had a lot better talent than last year. We had some really good singers which made it hard to choose just the top three winners.”
LeMarie added that she felt there was a very good turnout for the finals, and there may not be any changes because this year’s competition went well.
All nine final contestants will perform in Onslow county’s Oktoberfest come Oct. 22, alongside artists such as The Notorious Clamslammers and Kris Burrit.