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Statesboro soon to find its 'voice'


April 03, 2018

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Ever felt the need to grab a mic and belt out a show-stopping tune? Ever had dreams of being the next big thing in show business?

Some area residents are doing just that — reaching for their dreams — by competing in the inaugural Statesboro Voice competition. The competition will highlight the best of the area’s vocalists, but will also serve as the largest annual fundraising event for the Averitt Center for the Arts for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“The committee has been planning this event since last summer and we are excited and nervous about the community’s response,” said Jamie Grady, Averitt executive director. “I have heard a lot of great voices and talents within the community and I think this is a great opportunity for those people to really shine.”

Contestants were asked to submit a 2-minute video, showing off their best vocal abilities. The top 20 were then showcased in a preliminary competition in early March, and mentors Brandi Harvey, Brock Taylor, Jennifer Nunn and Chris Mitchell each selected two singers to work with to prepare them for the final competition, to be held on April 28. During that live performance, the contestants will compete for Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards, along with cash prizes.

Contestants included Jasmyn Smith and Chyann Rose, mentored by Harvey; Joshua Davis and Will Gay, mentored by Taylor; Sidney Claire Smith and Joey Bielik, mentored by Nunn; and Jordan Mathis and Miranda Winter, mentored by Mitchell. Here’s a brief look at each contestant:

Will Gay

He’s 29, and works at Queensborough Bank in Millen, where he’s a resident. He is a graduate of Jenkins County High School, and has been singing since he was 8 years old. He started singing in church, and loves to sing gospel, as well as country music. Although he sees singing as a hobby, he has made a few recordings, including a gospel and a country CD. He is looking forward to the competition, and to what he can learn from the mentoring process.

“I think we (he and his mentor) can do a lot of good things together. I hope he can pinpoint my strongest points,” he said.

Gay says that winning would mean a lot to him.

“I would be glad to win it. It might help me get into the Statesboro market with my singing. That’s kind of what my hope is,” he said.

Jordan Mathis

Statesboro native Mathis is 26, a registered nurse, worship leader at her church and mommy to a beautiful baby. She was raised in a musical family, and has been singing a long time — but she didn’t enter herself in the competition.

“My husband, mom and sister submitted my video audition, which they discreetly captured during our church band rehearsal. I didn’t know anything about it until I received a call from Robert (Cottle) at the Averitt Center congratulating me and inviting me to compete,” she said.

Mathis sang “Forever,” by Kari Jobe for her semifinal audition, and says “I guess it went alright because I turned a chair!”

“Just to be part of the eight singers competing is an honor for me, but winning the competition would obviously be icing in the cake. The prize money would also help me pay off some pesky student loans,” she said.

Joshua Davis

This isn’t the first rodeo for 17-year-old Davis, who has competed in both The Voice and America’s Got Talent. He’s been singing since he was very young. The Statesboro resident is in the adult education program at Ogeechee Tech, and likes video games, writing poetry and listening to music.

Participating in this competition may be a step toward his long-term goals.

“I really wanted to get my name out there. I wanted to really experience the whole voice atmosphere to see what it’s like. I also wanted to do it to work on my stage presence, to get it to another level,” he said.

Davis plans to be a recording artist, producer and own his own record label someday. This competition, he says, could get someone’s attention and help him get discovered.

Davis enjoys singing 90s R&B, and sang Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone,” for his semifinal performance. He hopes that his mentor will be able to help him work toward “having the best performance that I possibly can.”

Jasmyn Smith

Twenty-five-year-old Smith has auditioned for The Voice and for American Idol, and made it through several rounds of auditions. And now she’s competing in Statesboro Voice.

A native of Statesboro, Smith is the oldest of three children. She loves to sing, dance and act, and enjoys online shopping, bowling, playing BINGO, vacationing and sleeping.  She is the Infant & Toddler Suite Leadership Manager at Kid’s World Learning Center, and has a degree in Culinary Arts and in Early Childhood Education.

Her love of music led her to audition for Statesboro Voice.

“I plan to sing more in the community of Statesboro and wanted to showcase my voice in the different genres I sing for future performances,” she said. “My audition was exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time. I was excited, shocked, and appreciative to see all four judges turn as quickly as they did for me.”

Becoming an even better singer is what Smith hopes to get out of the competition.

“I hope to strengthen my singing skills, network with like-minded singers, and bring my joy of singing to the community of Bulloch County,” she said.

Chyann Rose

She began singing at 7 years old in church, and has been performing ever since. She was a member of one of the Pladd Dot Music’s School of Rock bands, called Supernova. At just 18, Rose is a regular on the Statesboro music scene, and has performed all over the state for the past five years.

Rose enjoys performing country music, mixed with Southern rock and classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Her voice has a bluesy, soulful quality. She has been nominated by Georgia-Country.com as a finalist for Teen Artist of the Year for the past four years, as well as the Georgia Music Awards in 2016, and was a two-time finalist at the Country Showdown in Savannah.

Rose has opened for Cole Swindell, Colt Ford and Chelsea Bain, and has performed her original song, “Georgia Girl,” for Jennifer Nettles.

“I’m so honored to be a finalist in Statesboro Voice, and I’m so excited to be working with Brandi Harvey. I’ve worked with several different people along my musical journey, so I’m excited to work with somebody new,” she said. “I’m also excited because I think Ms. Brandi and I have similar styles, so I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Sydney Claire Smith

Smith had just gotten over the flu when the deadline dropped for Statesboro Voice auditions, so she wasn’t planning to participate.

“I sounded really, really bad,” she said, laughing. “But my mom was like, come on, just do one video. Now I’m really glad I got in. But at the time, I was not ready for it.”

Smith attends Southeast Bulloch High School, and is in the advanced women’s choir at school, and is in the School of Rock & Roll at Pladd Dot. She sings at her church, and loves animals, so she volunteers on adoption Saturdays at Petco. She wants to be a veterinarian someday, but singing professionally is also on her radar.

Smith says her audition in the semifinals went well — she went first.

“It was really nerve-racking to hear everyone after me, so I’m glad that I went first,” she said.

She is excited work with Nunn as her mentor.

“She’s a really good mentor. She’s expanding my range of songs I listen to,” Smith said.

Winning the competition would be amazing, she added.

“It would mean that I can kind of go after this goal of singing more and doing more with singing. And that would be awesome,” she said.

Miranda Winter

Winter says she’s been singing since she could talk, and she started to pursue it as a career at 16. She started singing in restaurants and bars around her native Augusta at that time, and began auditioning for American Idol. Three years ago, she received the golden ticket to Hollywood during Season 14 of the show, but was cut during the first round.

She moved to the Boro two years ago when her husband took a job teaching at Statesboro High School. Winter says she has continued to write music, sing and play the guitar. She also had a lead role in the Averitt Center’s production of Guys and Dolls.

As for auditioning, she says her friends and family had been asking if she was still singing since moving to Statesboro.

“I haven’t sang a lot since I’ve been here,” she said. “A couple of people in the area tagged me on (Statesboro Voice), including my boss at SERVPRO, so I said what the heck, I should give it a shot and see what happens. And I got four chairs turned around.”

Winter is hoping that her mentor will be able to push her to branch out into a new area of music, and is excited because he is very knowledgeable about music and technique.

If she wins, she plans to record a couple of original songs with the prize money. And if she wins, Winter says it will mean, “I can still sing and that I’ve still got it. And that you’re never too old to follow your dream.”

Joey Bielik

Bielik was a Music Education major and Drama minor at the University of Georgia, and is happy to get a chance to be a part of the theater world again. Other roles and musicals he has been a part of include the role of Jesus in Godspell, being in the pit orchestra for Ragtime, and working as assistant music director for Little Shop of Horrors.

He recently starred in his first Averitt Center production, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, playing Leafy Coneybear and Carl Grubenierre.

The final competition for Statesboro Voice will be held April 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Emma Kelly Theater in downtown Statesboro. Tickets are $25. To purchase tickets for the event, call (912) 212-2787, or go online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org.


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