Austin Anderson has been crowned the winner of the 2014 season of Chautauqua's Got Talent.
After spending every Monday for the past six weeks competing against individuals from around the county, Anderson has earned glory and prizes. For securing the win, Anderson was awarded with $500 cash, a promotional website and dinner once a month for a year at Wing City Grille.
"It feels better than I thought it would - it's definitely out there," Anderson said. "I've never really won a competition before, so getting the support I needed feels pretty good. I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout the competition."
Photo by Dusten Rader
The finalists of Chautauqua’s Got Talent 2014 are pictured on the stage of the Spire Theater. From left are: Brooklyn Bucklin, Austin Anderson, Dylan Carlson, Taylor Latour, Rishi Gupta, Chris Waddy and Lindsey Hinger.
Anderson said he plans on investing the winnings to bring his music to the public. He hopes to have a career in the arts, he said, and wants to either join a band or write his own album.
"I sure hope so, because I can't really do anything else - so I'm going to try," Anderson said.
Anderson said he isn't likely to be back in Chautauqua's Got Talent as a competitor next year because he'd like to give someone else a shot.
"If you want to get noticed, this is a great way to do it," Anderson said.
Those interested in following Anderson's career will soon be able to do so when the promotional website is created for him.
According to Ylsa Giuffre, CEO of Big Time Productions, winning wasn't easy, but Anderson deserves recognition for the hard work and dedication he put toward the competition over the past three years.
"Austin Anderson came to us three years ago and he was young, excited, ambitious, adorable and we were really impressed with him back then," Giuffre said.
"I don't know if he was ready to win the competition at that point, but he has grown and developed over the years to a point where he truly is a seasoned performer - he is a rockstar. He has grown to a level of performance quality that is deserving of large audiences and a whole concert all to himself - he really did deserve it this year."
Before Anderson was announced the winner of the competition, he and the six other contestants first had to take the stage to show what they are made of. The show was opened with a performance by Chris Waddy, whose rendition of Cupid's "Cupid Shuffle" also featured nearly a dozen female dancers. Judge Giuffre said the performance demonstrated the reason why everyone loves him. "It's been a joy to have you - you're a true entertainer," she said.
Next to take the stage was Brooklyn Bucklin, whose cover of Adele "Turning Tables" earned judge Steve Davis' compliments. "You have a beautiful gift - you can sing," he said.
Dylan Carlson then took on Jessie J's "Who You Are," which featured Josh Lucas and Jessica Hochstine as dancers. Judge Jamie Lee said she loved every single moment of it, and Davis added that he didn't like it at all, rather, he loved it.
As promised, Taylor Latour brought with her some classical music by performing "Adele's Laughing Song" from "Die Fledermaus." Giuffre was completely amazed by the performance, and Davis added that he was proud of what Latour presented.
Rishi Gupta then took on Adele's "Skyfall," which Davis felt he had hit out the park. Giuffre called the rendition Gupta's strongest vocal performance of the season, and guest judge Jillian Higgs added that it was phenomenal.
Austin Anderson then took a seat on the stairs leading up to the stage of the Spire Theater to offer an intimate performance of Radiohead's "Creep." Giuffre said the experience was like sitting in the living room with him, while Davis called the performance "Rockstar."
The competition portion of the evening was wrapped up by Lindsey Hinger's fire eating and fire hooping to iBenji's "Broken Box." Jamie Lee said she was terrified by the act, but also entertained. Giuffre then thanked Hinger for bringing the heat before intermission and vote counting began.
There were also a number of guest performers who took stage after intermission to pass the time until the votes were tallied. The guest performers included magician Uriel Ben-Itzhak, Corey Osbourne, Anna Paterniti, Leisha Kolstee and Jillian VanHouten. Jamestown Vibe also presented a light and lazer show featuring DJ Sizzle.
"I think the production has reached a level of quality that is befitting of the fine talent that we have in our community," Giuffre said. "This competition offers a platform for entertainers to have an outlet. It's a feel-good competition, and we like involving the families and friends of the competitors. There's a lot of positively here, and the judges are always really encouraging - it's really a safe place for people to come and perform and be appreciated."
Chautauqua's Got Talent is hosted by Big Time Productions and The Post-Journal, in conjunction with 59lucylane.com, Wing City Grille, The Secret Garden Flower Shop, J. Edwards Insurance Agency and Jamestown Vibe. For more information, call 450-7357, visit spiretheater.org, in-spire.us or search for "Chautauqua's Got Talent" on Facebook.