OBX Got Talent: And it was on display

By on January 30, 2024

Huntley, winner of the most recent season of The Voice, opened OBX Got Talent with some encouraging words to the participants. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Molly and Josh Simpson of Virginia singing "Stubborn Love" by The Lumineers. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Grace Waters of Currituck with her own unique take of "Dock on the Bay" by Otis Redding, which helped get her to the final five. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Manteo High School senior Hope DeHart covering "Stick Season" by Noah Kahan to large cheers from the crowd. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Heidi Velazquez of KDH singing her own original song “The Survey Song” which also proved to be a hit with the judges. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Manteo singer songwriter Kathy Postlewait showcasing her vocal and guitar talent playing an original song for the audience. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Boyfriend and girlfriend duo Samantha Pugh and Nikolai Novgrod performing their version of "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Shane Thomas singing and playing the chords to "Atlantic City" by Bruce Springsteen. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
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Huntley, winner of the most recent season of The Voice, opened OBX Got Talent with some encouraging words to the participants. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Molly and Josh Simpson of Virginia singing "Stubborn Love" by The Lumineers. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Grace Waters of Currituck with her own unique take of "Dock on the Bay" by Otis Redding, which helped get her to the final five. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Manteo High School senior Hope DeHart covering "Stick Season" by Noah Kahan to large cheers from the crowd. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Heidi Velazquez of KDH singing her own original song “The Survey Song” which also proved to be a hit with the judges. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Manteo singer songwriter Kathy Postlewait showcasing her vocal and guitar talent playing an original song for the audience. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Boyfriend and girlfriend duo Samantha Pugh and Nikolai Novgrod performing their version of "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
Shane Thomas singing and playing the chords to "Atlantic City" by Bruce Springsteen. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)
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Judges select five local finalists at Pioneer Theater event

It was a full house at the Pioneer Theater in downtown Manteo on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 26, 10 local finalists were winnowed down to five by a panel of judges in the first live audience auditions of OBX Got Talent.

Over the decades, one of the country’s oldest theaters has seen many talents grace its stage. But on Saturday, it was all about the local, untapped amateur talent on the Outer Banks.

It’s one of the ideas that Michael Basnight and his sister Jamie Hatchell got excited about when deciding if they should buy the Pioneer Theater. And from the electricity and excitement in the theater, it was clear it’s something the Outer Banks was ready to experience. A family affair, the theater was filled with all generations grabbing the famed Pioneer buttered popcorn as they waited for the performers to take the stage.

“Our goal is to find the next Caroline Owens,” Michael Basnight, who MCed the event, told the crowd, referring to the Nashville Bluegrass sensation who phoned into the Pioneer on a Zoom call to join the judging panel. “It’s time for y’all to do your thing,” he told the 10 contestants, who hailed from all around the region, including Manteo, Virginia Beach, Currituck and Kitty Hawk.

The 10 finalists performed as the opener for Huntley, the winner of the most recent NBC’s The Voice competition. He even came on stage in a surprise appearance to wish the acts luck and give some words of encouragement. On Feb. 24, the five finalists will be narrowed down to three and on March 30, the winner will be crowned. The winner will get the chance to perform at events presented by Cory Hemilright’s and VusicOBX’s production companies.

First up was a duet by brother-sister duo Josh and Molly Simpson from Virginia singing “Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers while Josh strummed the guitar. Next up, Heidi Erickson demonstrated her vocal skills with “Reflection” from Disney’s Mulan. Jillian Lacount of Manteo delivered a heartfelt version of “Bring on the Rain” and Grace Waters of Currituck showcased her singing and guitar playing skills with her unique take on “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. Hope DeHart of Manteo, who drew arguably the loudest cheers from the crowd, showed off her singing and picking skills to “Stick Season” by Noah Kahan.

KDH’s Heidi Velazquez showcased her vocals and guitar skills with an original tune, while Shane Thomas of Kill Devil Hills wowed the crowd with the classic “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen. Samantha Pugh & Nikoli Novgrod demonstrated their guitar and banjo skills while Samantha belted out the lyrics to Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Suzy Wescott Overman energized the audience with the upbeat “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King, and Kathy Postlewait, a local singer songwriter from Manteo, moved the judges with an original country song titled “The Last Thing On My Mind.”

After each performance, the judging panel, which included Caroline Owens, Cory Hemilright of Bluegrass Island Music Festival, and Rebecca and Brad Meyers of VusicOBX, took turns giving their comments and critiques, with many positive, encouraging comments and some acknowledgements that nerves came into play.

In a previous conversation with the Voice, Basnight explained he wanted a competition for people who weren’t used to playing in front of a crowd, adding that, “I think that’ll be kind of cool for someone to come out of your garage, come out of your safe space where you practice.”

After a brief break, the judges asked three of the performers to perform a second song to help them make their decision. For her second song, Grace Waters sang and played the chords to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, Heidi Velazquez sang and strummed the guitar to “Ghost” by Justin Bieber, and Suzy Overman sang “Cheap Thrills” by Sia.

After some final deliberations, Basnight called the five finalists onto the stage. First to be called were Molly and Josh Simpson. Molly, a senior in high school who went to school for musical theater and recently starting songwriting, and Josh, a sophomore in high school who got a guitar during Covid, won for their performance of Stubborn Love, which Cory Hemilright said they “owned.”

The next finalist was Heidi Velasquez, who said she wrote her original song “The Survey Song” when she was first dating her now husband, who was sitting in the crowd with their two children. He had given her a survey to get to know her better and she wrote the song as an answer. Hemilright told her “that You have a good thing going there. I wanted to keep listening to more.” Brad Meyer added that “I could definitely tell you’re a natural on the stage.”

Next called was Grace Waters, 24, of Currituck, who’s been playing the guitar since she was nine years old and “singing since she could talk,” for her renditions of “Dock of the Bay” and “Dreams.” Grace’s talent got her through despite a couple of moments having to stop and restart her songs and some timing issues noted with her guitar. “I can see you jamming out anywhere,” said Rebecca Meyers.

The fourth finalist was Manteo High senior Hope DeHart, whose gritty version of Noah Kahan’s folk song “Stick Season” had the crowd cheering before she finished the song. “The crowd’s response says everything,” noted Hemilright. “It was mesmerizing,” added Rebecca Meyers.

The last finalist was Manteo’s Kathy Postlewait for her original song, “The Last Thing On My Mind,” which she told the crowd she wrote back in 1995. Postlewait has written hundreds of songs, and Caroline Owens said this performance almost moved her to tears and “felt like my grandma singing to me.”

Rebecca Meyers told the Voice that judging the competition was incredibly difficult as the lineup was stacked with talent from all ages and backgrounds.

“Some were on the stage for the second time ever [the first being tryouts] and some have been playing and songwriting for many, many years. All ten acts were unique and fun to watch,” she declared, adding that her goal was to encourage all of them to continue with their passion in live music, whether they advanced or not.

“I’m excited to see all ten continue their journeys in live music and will plan to see them play locally whenever I can,” she continued. “The next round is going to be stacked, as all five artists are very talented and I’m sure they will be rehearsing nonstop between now and then.”

 



Comments

  • Obxandy

    My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the show with $5 entry fee!

    Tuesday, Jan 30 @ 7:36 pm
  • Holly West

    This sounds like the perfect opportunity to bring the OBX together for a night of fun and music. It is exciting to see all the new ways the Pioneer Theater is expanding. If I was in NC right now, I would have been there. Best wishes for all the performers. Any chance of being able to zoom inyp the next one?

    Tuesday, Jan 30 @ 11:25 pm