A chilly West Michigan Saturday warmed up with a unique talent contest and a Grand Rapids tour stop by Philadelphia indie-rock/post-hardcore band mewithoutYou. The photos at Local Spins.
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Millions are familiar with the national TV competition “America’s Got Talent,” but on Saturday night, a more modest but equally enthusiastic contest modeled after that show featured a different, distinctly local twist.
Rockford’s Got Talent rolled out nine entertainers competing for cash prizes in adult and youth categories at Rockford High School’s Fine Arts Auditorium, from singers to instrumentalists to dancers.
In the end, a panel of judges chose college student and singer Porter Kenyon, who performed an original pop composition on piano, as winner of the adult division. Sixteen-year-old Rockford High School student and guitarist Lily Harper took home the top prize in the youth division after singing a poignant tune which received raves from judges. Each won $500.
Kenyon, a Cedar Springs native, has been writing and recording songs for several years, and currently is a student at Central Michigan University. Read more about Kenyon in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight.
Saturday’s show hosted by the Rockford Area Community Endowment served as a fundraiser for Rockford’s Krause Library Expansion Fund.
A separate “people’s choice” award — based on voting by fans online — went to the Rockford Dance Company, which also placed third in the youth division in the judges voting. The dance company earned a $3,121 prize, equal to half of the donations made by voters online. The other half will go to the library expansion fund.
Second place in the youth division went to 11-year-old guitarist and singer Luke Latchana, who performed a crowd-pleasing rendition of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” Also competing in the youth division: 10-year-old pianist Winston Allen and twin singers Mimi and Tori Sulak.
In the adult division, indie-rock band Bond Girl placed second, with pianist Michaeleen Kelly coming in third, followed closely by singer-songwriter Frank Pfaff.
Second place winners in each division were awarded $250; third-place, $100. The event also received more than $42,000 in donations from sponsors.
Serving as celebrity judges for the event were WZZM TV13’s Catherine Behrendt, WOOD TV8’s Michele DeSelms, keyboardist Dennie Middleton, West Michigan Whitecaps on-field host and former Rockford teacher Bob Wells and Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics. (Middleton and Wells also performed as part of the event.)
Also on Saturday night, a mostly masked mewithoutYou from Philadelphia brought its post-hardcore indie-rock to The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids for a sold-out show at the venue. The band is on its “Brother Sister” 15- and 16-year anniversary tour.
PHOTO GALLERY: Rockford’s Got Talent at Rockford High School
Photos by Anna Sink and John Sinkevics
VIDEO: Rockford’s Got Talent Highlights
PHOTO GALLERY: mewithouYou at The Pyramid Scheme
Photos by Kendra Petersen-Kamp