The Inspirational Country Music Association made the 4th stop of their Nashville Talent Showdown on Saturday in Jacksonville, Arkansas. The event was hosted by North Jacksonville Missionary Baptist Church. It was a great day of teaching, mentoring, and competition with some amazing talent. There were winners in three different categories: Youth, Adult, and the Young Musician Award.
In the Adult Division, Mary Farmer won first place. Mary competed in the Texas Regional of this competition last year but did not place. She took the judges comments and suggestions to heart and returned this year to show the judges the improvement that lead to. Mary sang very close to heart. “Already Home” was written by Brian Calhoun in tribute to his mom. She was called home to heaven after a car accident and Brian shared that as he was walking up to the porch of his parent’s house to get the details of the accident, he heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Already Home.” Brian knew that he would see her again someday and wrote this song about their reunion. For everyone who has loved ones in Heaven, this is a great reminder that we have eternity to look forward to. Mary Farmer runs a crisis center for victims and her Assistant’s husband recently lost his life in a motorcycle accident. Mary dedicated this beautiful song to their 12 year old daughter, Aly. What a great reminder of the hope that we have in Jesus!
Second place for the adult division went to Theda Durham from Heber Springs, Arkansas. She is a mother to 5 beautiful daughters. Theda has been playing and singing music since she was in the 3rd grade. She says her family and friends are her current fans, but her father was her biggest fan. He passed away almost 10 years ago, but she says she can still feel him watching down from Heaven and smiling when she sings. She loves to sing or play in her spare time, but lately she has devoted her time to helping her daughter Selena live out her dream of becoming a star!
Grace Aaron of Quitman, AR took home first place in the Youth Division. Born and raised in Central Arkansas, Grace grew up with a love of gospel, bluegrass, and country music. She showed an impressive ear for harmony at only 6 years old and started singing with her older brother shortly after. Their younger sister joined them a few years later, and together the family trio has performed at numerous church and community events. As a soloist, 17- year old Grace is finding her own voice thanks to the influence of artists from various genres including Christian artists Lauren Daigle and Danny Gokey, bluegrass singer Amanda Smith, and country artists such as Collin Raye and Bryan White. She hopes to share her talent and love for country and gospel music for years to come.
Selena Childress claimed second place in the youth division. Selena is 15 and one of her biggest dreams is becoming a star. She started singing when she was 5 and says she “has not shut up since”.She auditioned for American Idol last week, and they told her even though she was good, she was too young to start a career. She said her goal for this competition was to prove them wrong, and she did! Even though singing is her dream, she also plays soccer for her high school team in Heber Springs. Her biggest fans include her mom, dad, and her soccer coach, Mr. Gez. For the competition, Selena sang a beautiful rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece” and barely left a dry eye in the house.
The third place winner in the Youth division was Madelynn Ritchie. Madelynn is a sophomore at Jacksonville High School and is highly involved in the music department there. She is a 2 year member of an elite A Capella choir called Natural State of Mind. Madelynn has been a member of the Choral Choirs for four years, and also the JNPSD band for four years where she plays the flute and piccolo.
The Nashville Talent Showdown has now partnered with Mike Huckabee and his new show on TBN called “Huckabee” to bring the Huckabee Young Musician Award. This award is for any musician age 10-18. The regional finalist from each of the three remaining competitions (including AR) will move on to compete in the Finale in Nashville. The Grand Finale winner receives a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to perform on “Huckabee”.
The first place winner was Grace Aaron who played the piano. She wowed the judges with a beautiful version of “Tis so Sweet”.
Second place went to Brendon Crow who played the Saxophone. Brendon is a freshmen at the University of Arkansas in Fayettville where he is involved in ROTC. Brendon was in the band for six years before graduating from Jacksonville High School last year. Brendon impressed the judges with his rendition of “What A Wonderful World”.
Taking third place was 13 year old Rachel Crow. Rachel also played the Saxophone. She has been playing the alto saxophone for 2 years and switched to a tenor Saxophone just a little over a month ago. The judges were very impressed with how she handled the transition and did a great job at such a young age. Rachel got the judges attention with her version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.
Judges for the Nashville Talent Showdown in Jennings, LA were Jeff Bates, Buddy Jewell, Lisa Daggs, and Chuck Day. Ronnie Horton was the Emcee for the event.
The first place winner will advance on to the finals on November 10, 2018 in Nashville, TN to compete for the Grand Finale Title of the Nashville Talent Showdown Winner. The Grand Finale Winner will get the opportunity to perform during the 24th Annual Inspirational Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 4, 2019 in Nashville, TN.
The Nashville Talent Showdown has only 2 stops left in New Mexico and Kentucky leading up to the Grand Finale in Nashville, TN.