It was a night of singing and spectacle as No One Alone, a local domestic violence shelter, held its first annual North Georgia’s Got Talent event to raise funds for its shelter that serves Lumpkin and Dawson County. Featuring 17 contestants from around North Georgia, the event drew a large crowd and raised over $12,200 to go towards supporting victims of domestic abuse.
With operating costs of over $95 a day, fundraising is essential to NOA in order to provide for its emergency shelter which provided services to 1,149 locals in 2016 as well as responded to 3,759 crisis calls. NOA’s first annual talent show provided an opportunity to raise funds while simultaneously showcasing the talent that can be found in the North Georgia mountains.
Held on Oct. 14 at the Dawson Performing Arts Center, North Georgia’s Got Talent began with NOA board member Della Lago thanking the sponsors and donors that made the event possible. Lago went on to describe the importance of being informed on your local emergency shelter.
“The majority of the time, someone who is experiencing any kind of domestic violence, their first call is generally not to the crisis line because they don’t know us,” Lago said. “Their first call is going to be to you, their friends and family. It’s important that you have this information because there have been times when a father, a brother, a mother has called our crisis line and said this is what my loved one is telling me, what do I do? They’re already feeling very vulnerable, beat down and confused. That’s why it’s important that you have this information.”
Following Lago’s introduction, the two masters of ceremony Gina Galbiati-Gailey and G. Richard Hoard took to the stage to open the event. Gailey is a professional country music singer-songwriter who has shared the stage with country giants such as Ricky Skaggs and Jamey Johnson. She is a Georgia State University graduate but also attended the University of North Georgia from 1998 to 2000. Hoard is a University of Georgia graduate and an accomplished local writer having published four books including his latest novel “The Missing Boys,” released in July of this year.
Before introducing the nights judges, the two hosts brought the crowd to life with a duet of “Jackson” originally by Johnny and June Carter Cash. Hoard began the announcement of the judges by introducing Brianna Bass. An Atlanta native, Bass has a plethora of qualifying skills including ballet instruction at Studio Go Dance in Atlanta, 11 years as an Advanced Actor Combatant and a background in choreography.
The judges to her left, Jessica and Jordan Bennett, are bi-coastal TV and Film professionals who recently relocated to Atlanta. Jordan specialized in post sound design, mixing and composing. Jessica is a casting associate and stunt woman who has serves on projects such as “Corbin Nash,” “Making History” and “The Walking Dead.”
For the next two hours, the audience was wowed by a range of performances including musical covers, original songs, dance performances and even a comedy act by local business owner Vikki Voorhees-Condrey. The talent show featured two blocks of performances and an intermission where the audience could vote for the People’s Choice Award via their admission ticket as well as additional dollars for the cause.
When the talent-filled evening came to an end, it was time to announce the first annual North Georgia’s Got Talent winners. Beginning with the People’s Choice Awards, third place went to 12-year-old singer Naomi Roberts from White County. The second place People’s Choice Award went to Dahlonega resident and singer Marisa Allen and the first place People’s Choice Award went to UNG Junior Stefanie Stewart for her lively dance routine.
The judges took to the stage as time came to announce the official first winners of North Georgia’s Got Talent. Third place, along with $150, was awarded to 11-year-old Kennedy Hoard for her rendition of Grace Vanderwaal’s “I Don’t Know My Name.” The second-place prize of $250 was given to 11-year-old Nealy Webster for her patriotic performance of the “Armed Forces Medley.” The grand prize winner of $500 and the first annual North Georgia’s Got Talent went to Dahlonega native Belle Gray for her cover of Foxing’s “The Medic.”
After a few more rounds of cheers, the talent show concluded with a special thanks to all the individuals who made the event possible. Among these was the Event Production Director Neva Garrett who explained to the Vanguard what she took away for her involvement with NOA’s talent show.
“Well you know I do a lot of showbiz in town. I’ve done community theater, I’ve done a little professional theater, and a lot of educational theater,” said Garrett. But to be able to use my skills and what I feel to be my gifts knowing that someone is being benefitted in ways other than just entertainment, to know of the importance of the ministry is thrilling…I gave a pep talk to the talent, about how because of being a part of this program for NOA and bringing awareness, raising money; it seems trite but everyone’s already won.”