By Anthony Stanford –
Aurora Public Library (APL) teen librarian Flannery Crump was the emcee for the 10th and final Teen Talent Show competition July 28 at the Copley Theatre in downtown Aurora.
The audience was entertained by the stiff competition and rousing vocal performances of competitors Elliot Gallegos, JJ Hasulube, Jovany Hernandez, Samantha Medina, Brianna Rivera, Mary Kate Schoessling, and Savannah Radcliff.
Guest judges, Paramount Theatre artistic director Jim Corti, APL director Daisy Porter-Reynolds, APL reference assistant Cesar Ortega, and Teen Advisory Board members, Jeevisha Shukla and Seetha Chalichama, likely will recall how tough it was to determine a winner.
Porter-Reynolds talked about the deliberation process. She said, “I was delighted to be a judge for the final Teen Talent Show. The decision was excruciating with all the talent we had, but Jovany won me over with the heart and soul he put into his song.”
The show opened with a performance by two former stars of the Teen Talent Show: 2014 winner San Sandberg and 2017 winner Barnali Behari.
Following a difficult deliberation by the judges, the top prize for the 2018 APL Teen Talent Show was presented to Jovany Hernandez. The East Aurora High School junior, who enjoys expressing himself through song, gave a stirring performance of the song “For Forever.”
While the judges deliberated, Behari entertained the audience with several heartrending songs.
Following the thrilling announcement of his victory, with his proud parents nearby, Hernandez talked about the competition and what it means to have won the top prize.
He said, “Something in my soul told me to just go for it. I’ve been singing since age four. Since I was a little kid, music was my escape and my father has been my inspiration. While it’s sad that this is the final Teen Talent Show competition, it feels great to have won top honors in my very first solo stage performance.”
Performers, organizers, and volunteers joined in song at the end of the show, by paying a touching tribute to Destinee Oliva, the first Teen Talent Show winner, who passed away in 2010.
Capturing visual highlights of the performances was photographer Dan Smolla. Teen librarians Flannery Crump at the Eola Branch and Pat Schwartz at the West Branch organized the free competition.
Anthony Stanford is an author and Aurora Public Library Media Consultant.