Another large crowd gathered Friday night at Charles Hoey Park to watch Kasper Cooper handily win the Cover/Show Tunes category of Duncan Has Talent.
Fans of this event marvelled at Cooper’s progress to the point where he is now a polished country singer. On the way to winning the title and the $500 bursary he sang Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way and the sexy Josh Turner tune, Your Man.
Second place and the $250 bursary went to Mary McGill, who presented two entirely different styles on the CUPE stage, starting with Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music and finishing with Radioactive.
Twelve-year-old Hana Khan took third spot and the $100 prize with her renditions of Faithfully and the CCR standard, Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
The other finalists in this year’s competition were Zeara Broadway who sang Angel and Hallelujah and Naomi Davies, who presented I’m Yours and Mr. Bright Side.
Judges Cathy Schmidt and Laura Cardriver again reminded the crowd that their mentorship of the contestants is a big part of Duncan Has Talent as it’s a week-long process with the pair of them helping the performers with suggestions on previous evenings.
“We’re really excited to get started. The performances have been wonderful, but we’ll be looking to see if they took our advice or not,” she said.
“We’re looking for the pure joy of performing, your expressiveness,” Cardriver said. “Everybody was better yesterday than the day before and some by a huge amount.”
Organizer Longevity John Falkner said the mentorship is the strength of the event: the way that Cardriver and Schmidt help the competitor learn “how to enjoy the stage.”
He also praised the supporters of the event.
“When I look out and see this audience, you’re making my dream come true,” he said.
Finally, after the performances, Schmidt said, “The growth we’ve seen in these five has been really amazing but we’re proud of all nine who showed up this week.”
She also thanked the Lions Club for stepping up to sponsor the bursaries, explaining that music lessons are expensive and this year’s financial help is really valuable.
When she announced the winners, Cardriver — a mentor to the end — only wished they could have had another week with each of the performers because they’d seen so many wonderful changes in just a few days.