Judging Rockwall’s most talented not easy, but definitely worthwhile

Photo by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

For Goodness’ Sake

By Blue Ribbon News reporter Austin Wells

ROCKWALL, TX (March 8, 2015) This good news just in: we have a winner for the 6th annual Rockwall’s Got Talent competition, the finale of which occurred Friday, March 6 at the Rockwall High School theatre. RGT is presented each year by the Rockwall Community Playhouse.

Lexi Greenhill and Raquelle Blackwood earned the top prize of $1,000 (sponsored by Northstar Bank) with their powerful and soulful rendition of “Hallelujah.”

Claiming the 2nd place prize of $500 (sponsored by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall) was singer/songwriter Kylee Clark with her original tune, “Carousel.”

Holyn Mason, Dusty Williams, Ian Dickerson, Heath Redmond and their band, The Don Johnsons, took 3rd place and $250 (sponsored by Westchester Homes) with their rocking performance of The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up.”

But allow me to back up, for I’m not here simply to give you a list of winners, but rather to explain my experience serving as a judge of the show for the first time in my limited but so far fulfilling career as a journalist.

There was a barrage of spectacular talents on display, and I’m certain I speak for my fellow judges when I say it was not easy selecting a champion amongst a most talented group of finalists who are champions in their own right and in their own hearts, regardless of the outcome.

Judges Austin Wells, David Sweet, Nanc Roberts Pistilli and Jason Bias.

Don’t get me wrong; my fellow judges and I – along with an audience which absolutely packed the RHS theatre – did in my opinion select the top three winners justly. Lexi’s and Raquelle’s musical talents complimented each other extremely well, with Raquelle’s smooth and confident guitar strums pairing beautifully with the duo’s passionately unrestrained vocals, and their choice of song captured the peaks of their skills. Kylee’s performance of “Carousel” scored major points for me in terms of execution, rhythm and sound, and I have a feeling the sky’s the only limit for this gifted keyboard player. And kudos to The Don Johnsons, for being the first act of a three-hour show and rocking that Black Keys track so solidly that it stood out in the minds of voters throughout the 27 other performances to follow.

As for the judging itself, I must confess I found it difficult to give anyone a score lower than 5/10 for any of the categories we were tasked with (personality and poise, execution and originality, rhythm and sound, and appearance). But I couldn’t help but think about all the practice these performers no doubt put into their acts. And a lot of contestants were very young as well. Can you imagine the nerves, the rattling heartbeats, the sweaty palms – and then getting one last shot to overcome all of it and show people what you can do? The performers did just that. Now that’s what I call talent!

So congrats to the winners, the runners-up, and every single contestant who put on a brave face and showcased their talents (are you paying attention, Hollywood?) Bravo for your courage and commitment that has proven for six years and counting that Rockwall does have talent… and talent in many forms, as evident in this year’s competition.

From Codee Sanford’s hysterical Hip Hop dance to the “Chain Hang Low” remix and the visually appealing Flag Corp routine put on by Marshall Wilson, Alyssa Ausicken, Jocelyn Belony and Katie Pena; to Makenna Riley’s skillful mastery of the violin and Aiden Valentine’s delivery of the Frozen soundtrack “Let It Go” which nearly had the whole audience on its feet – the wondrous talents evident in our community will never cease to amaze me, and they all helped make my first-time experience as judge a fond and memorable one.

To all the communities we at Blue Ribbon News serve: keep the good news coming…for goodness’ sake!

Below are more photos from the event. If we missed featuring a picture of your favorite act, email photos to and we’ll add them to our photo gallery! (Click images to enlarge)

By Blue Ribbon News reporter Austin Wells. Read all of his columns at BlueRibbonNews.com

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