‘We’ve Got Talent’ supports music education in Carroll County
By Kelby Newcomb
The Carroll County Music Group (CCMG) will holds its eighth annual production of “We’ve Got Talent” on Sunday, March 3, in the Eureka Springs Auditorium.
There will be a pre-show beginning at 2:30 p.m., and the concert will start at 3 p.m. Sharon Parker, president of CCMG, said artistic directors Donesa and Rick Man have done an incredible job lining up amazing youth and adult talent to perform at We’ve Got Talent this year.
“We’ve Got Talent gets bigger and more far-reaching every year,” Parker said. “We’ve got so many wonderful acts this year.”
She said the event began eight years ago under the direction of former artistic director Jim Swiggart.
“It was his vision to harken back to the old-fashioned days when you used to have Sunday recitals,” Parker said, “and give the kids a chance to perform and also make this into a fundraising event. It has blossomed into more than that.”
More than 80 percent of CCMG’s funding is raised through direct solicitations for donations from area businesses, she said.
“I’ve got a fantastic crew that does that. I have made it into a bigger concern,” she said, “and we’re able to reach more people in a very short time.”
The focus, Parker said, has always been on the students and giving them a chance to perform.
“At the same time, we invite adult musicians, adults choirs and local acts here in Eureka Springs,” she said, “so kids can see it doesn’t end with high school. This experience translates not only into their music studies but also into other areas of their lives. It’s going to serve them well.”
The money raised through We’ve Got Talent goes directly into scholarships for local students to attend music camps, she said. Last year, CCMG raised close to $9,500 and awarded 31 scholarships, she said.
“We support all of the arts,” Parker said. “Our main areas of focus for scholarships are voice, instrumental, orchestra, string/piano and music theater. Last year, we opened scholarships up to dance. We really impress upon the families to try to do their part. If the need is really warranted, we step up and pay their whole way.”
Eureka Springs Elementary School students William Linker, Trew Freeman and Aubrey Huntley said they are excited to perform at We’ve Got Talent, both with the elementary choir under the direction of Donesa Mann and with Elite Dance Studio.
“I enjoy showing people how I express myself through dance,” Freeman said, “so I’m looking forward to that.”
“I’ve always liked performing and being in front of an audience,” said Huntley.
“I’ll be performing with the choir and doing tap dance and hip hop with Elite,” Linker said. “I’m excited for it. I’ve been on stage quite a lot.”
Ben Winn, choir director for Berryville High School, said both his Vocal Image show choir and his Donna Voce women’s group will be performing at We’ve Got Talent.
“We’ve got a very diverse group coming from Berryville,” he said. “One of my high school choirs will be joining the Celebration Choir on their number. We collaborated back in December on our winter concert, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to get them back together to make a really unique sounds.”
As an educator, Winn said he sees We’ve Got Talent as a unique opportunity for the CCMG to give students a platform to present their skills and abilities that is rare throughout Arkansas.
“It goes to a good cause,” he said. “That’s the main reason why I support it.”
Berryville senior Rebecca Romine said what she likes about We’ve Got Talent is that you get to see talent from across the county.
“You’re all getting together for the cause of music,” she said. “The atmosphere is really positive.”
Sophomore Kevin Arana said getting to perform with friends makes the event that much sweeter.
“It’s not just us having to go up there and be all professional,” he said. “We’re still doing the best we can to be professional, but we also get to have fun performing with friends. Choir is like a family to us basically.”