What a privilege it was to attend an in-person Evergreen’s Got Talent this year, and to sit in amongst other local music enthusiasts and supporters, cheering on a handful of bold, talented kids. A return to the stage was only one of many things to celebrate—this year’s event also raised $5,500 for Resilience1220 and Center for the Arts Evergreen, where the competition was held. Ranging from 11 years old to their 20s, the evening featured 14 acts, varying in genre and content, all competing for a chance to open for the EPRD Summer Concert Series at the lake.

Participants included:

Jr. High Division

• Antony Emmons, with guitar and vocal covers of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” (Guns and Roses) and “Wonderwall” (Oasis)

• Izzat Shayusupov, with a joyful piano piece

• Sierra Gillings, with a soft and sweet cover of “Blackbird” (The Beatles) on her hot pink guitar

• Amelia McCord, playing ukulele and singing her original song, “Dear Silas”

• Scarlett Craggs, playing piano and singing her original song, “Blissful Ignorance”

• Callum Moffat and Alex Fleet, with a pared-down cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”

High School (and above) Division

• Molly Hochmuth, playing piano and singing Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes,” as well as an original song

• Raedi Danielson, with guitar and vocal covers of “Blame It On Me” (George Ezra) and “Let Her Go” (Passenger)

• A four-piece jazz ensemble including an upright bass, drums, keyboard and saxophone

• Jax Jordening and Jeb Barber, with great country covers on guitar and vocals

• Public Picasso, a rock duo by Ethan and Gray Schapiro

• May Be Fern, a full rock band, featured in this column just last month

• Danielle Faller, covering folk songs on guitar, as well as playing an original song, “Our World”

This year marked a shift for the Evergreen’s Got Talent program as Shaunon Gilman’s last year, and Andy Potter moved into leadership and served as the evening’s emcee. There was a moment of Tribute to Kenny Fuller, who had served as the Evergreen’s Got Talent host for many years, as well as “The Voice of Evergreen” at other events including EPRD’s Summer Concert Series and the Evergreen Music Festival. Hannah Davis, singer for May Be Fern, sang a song in his honor and, as the crowd fell to a reverent hush, it was easy to understand that these musical moments are meaningful and intimate for the community. There is a sense of coming together for something more important than just a musical competition.

Potter received feedback from many attendees that Evergreen’s Got Talent fills a void for many musical kids, especially as arts programs are being decreased in the local schools. This was true for Molly Hochmuth, one of the competitors, who has relied on music as an important creative outlet. “I started playing when we went into quarantine in 2020, and I really learned to lean on it,” she said. Hochmuth performed an original song for the competition, and this was a bold new move for her. “I’ve only recently started writing my own songs, I’d say in the past six months. It was unreal to perform in front of more than just my family members—it was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. I am so thankful for how supportive everyone there was.”

The competition was judged by a panel of locals: Jim Christie, Jim Sherwood, Peter Lindquist and Mark Swaim, who also served as the sound engineer for the event. Attendees were also able to cast a vote through donations, which added to the total money raised for Resilience1220. The judges’ decisions were the final call, and these Evergreen’s Got Talent winners will open for shows at the Summer Concert Series this summer: May Be Fern (Hannah Davis, Kate Lubotsky, Carleen Jeffers and Madi Spillman), Raedi Danielson, Danielle Faller, and Jax Jordening and Jeb Barber. These four acts will share the opening stages with the winners of the 285’s Got Talent competition: Keagan Lafferty and Bryce Merrill. Public Picasso and the Jazz Ensemble both received honorable mention and the popular vote. Amelia McCord took the win for the junior high division and will perform her song at Center for the Arts Evergreen’s Day of the Arts on June 4.

To learn more about the Evergreen’s Got Talent competition and this year’s winners, visit Facebook.com/evergreensgottalent. You can learn more about Resilience1220, which offers free counseling for young people and their families, at resilience1220.org. And learn more about Center for the Arts Evergreen and upcoming events at evergreenarts.org.