Westminster Certainly has talent: Teen Carrie Geisler wins it all

Jon Kelvey
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

Westminster’s Got Talent was the name of the show put on by the Carroll County Arts Council, and talent was what the city and county delivered Sunday evening.

More than 20 competitors took to the stage at the Carroll County Arts Center to dance, sing or play to the sold out theater in hopes of taking home a trophy in one of three age categories, or earning the grand prize spot overall. Hannah Sobieck offered a spare guitar and vocal cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie” in the teen category, Andrea Molina belted out “Quando M’en Vo’” from the opera “La Boheme” in the adult category and Nathan Eldridge, accompanied by friends on guitar and a percussion box, matching white shirts and his Buddy Holly glasses offered a cover of Sam Cooke’s “What a Wonderful World” in the youth category.

In the end, it was Carrie Geisler, competing in the 14 to 17 teen category, who won that grand prize for her folksy, devotional song “Made to Dance,” her own composition that she sang while playing acoustic guitar.

The winner of the adult category was Keymar’s Harley Ellis, who sizzled through a vocal performance of Rhianna’s “Love on the Brain.”

Alexa Fanning, of Winters Mill High School, took home the teen trophy for her operatic rendition of “Wishing you were Somehow Here Again,” from “The Phantom of the Opera.”

It was Ellis’ first performance since having her daughter, who is now 3.

It’s different performing as a mom — having somebody else in the audience — so that was pretty cool,” she said.

In the 13 and younger youth category, the winner was 11-year-old Juliana Groves, who accompanied herself on piano while covering “I am yours” by Lauren Diagle in a precociously mature and potent voice. It was a song she first sang in church, where she frequently performs.

“This is the first trophy I have ever gotten and I’ve always wanted to get a trophy, so I was really, really excited,” Juliana said.

One of the judges was original Danzig guitarist John Christ, who said that the way show performers carried themselves was just as important, regardless of what they were singing.

“We had some opera, we had a lot of pop and we had some show tunes,” he said. “For me the first thing is when they first walk out. What are they wearing? What do they look like? Is this stage theirs? Do they own it?”

The grand prize winner, Geisler, had it all, Christ said.

“When she hit some of her notes, she got better and better, and when I feel these little hairs go up on the right side of my neck, I know she has the ‘it,’ ” he said. “I leaned over [to Stoneberger] and I said, ‘you feel it?’ ”

All of the winners showed an impressive comfort and flow to their singing, according to another judge Kelly Stoneberger, a Westminster-based vocal instructor.

“One of the things I am looking for is are they comfortable with their air and are they breathing,” she said. “Are they comfortable and can they produce a nice line in their singing?”

Westminster’s Got Talent was started years ago by the City of Westminster according to event organizer Tabetha White. She’s not sure exactly when, as this is only the third year the Arts Council has been involved.

“They organized it for several years before they just became overwhelmed with events,” White said. “The last couple of years we have been partners on it, but this year they were like, nope, we can’t do it. Can you do it? So the arts center produced it ourselves this time.”

Beginning next year, the event will be called Carroll’s Got Talent, White said, “To better include our community that we as an Arts Council are serving.”

While the exact date of Carroll’s Got Talent, 2019 is not yet set, White said the plan is to keep the event in the winter months to avoid conflicts with vacations and other events. Auditions, and it is an audition-based competition — will likely start in early winter of 2019.

If there is any advice White could offer for those considering coming out to compete next year, it would be to mix things up.

“I think that it was really lovely that we had a range of performance styles, but I wish that we would have had more. We only had two dancers and they were both in the youth category,” she said. “I would love to see more diverse acts in next years competition, stepping away from singing in front of a microphone. Comedy, magic, improv.”

jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-3317

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