First Posted: 1/15/2009
When Jack Holt took the stage in front of a crowd of more than 40 that piled into Hillbilly Country last weekend, alongside TV producers and cameras, it was hard to tell he was nervous. He was grasping his guitar confidently in his hands and belting out tunes like he had done it professionally for years.
His rendition of an old gospel classic had the crowd singing along in unison, and earned him one of the largest ovations of the night.
But inside he was nervous, counting his mistakes, and in disbelief that he could win the singing contest that night.
But he did.
Holt, 40, along with Kendra Dawson, 22, were selected by the producers of Talent Search TV, an interactive, live, Internet television network, to appear on Talent Search TV tonight after performing during a local singing contest.
The contest was part of a local series with a premise similar to the popular Fox-series American Idol, which allows its viewers to vote for their favorite performers.
Talent Search TV will debut today at 11:30 p.m. on iON Television Network, which is carried locally on cable, DirecTV and over the air on Channel 16. The series will last for 20 weeks, with a winner selected from each episode by the viewers who vote online. Producers are traveling the Triad and surrounding area holding local contests to find contestants. The winners of the local contests will be chosen by the producers and will also be the ones selected to have their contest footage appear on air and online. The fate of those who appear on the show will be left in the hands of the viewers who vote online at www.TalentSearchTV.info.
All 20 weekly winners will compete for a grand prize of $500 at the 2009 Twin City Ribfest in Winston-Salem at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds June 11-24.
I honestly didnt think I was going to win, said Holt, who competed in the contest along with about six other singers and a band. I messed up a couple of different places. I have a small recording studio at home, where I play my own music and its easier to cover up a mistake, but when you sing along to the soundtrack, you cant cover it. I didnt think I was good enough to win.
But Bobby Locke, the producer and creator of the show, thought differently.
We liked that he played guitar and sang, Locke said of the Holt, who sings part-time and works full-time as a water plant operator in Thomasville. On the vocal side of things, all his notes were right. He had a steady quality.
Holt said hes been singing since he was an elementary-school student, but began pursuing his music professionally in 2001, about three years after he first learned to play the guitar.
In December 1998, my wife bought me a guitar. When I got my first guitar, I played in my sleep, said Holt, who is also part of the bluegrass/country gospel band the Harvest Time Singers. Ive been singing since I was in the third grade. My music teacher loved my singing, (and) everything that came up that included singing, I sang the lead part, (but) I cant stand to hear my own voice, especially when I play it back, I guess thats what keeps me humble.
Locke said the male performances were impressive during the singing contest, but there was one female performance that stood out as a crowd-pleaser.
She really put on a show, Locke said of Kendra Dawson, the other winner he selected to appear on Talent Search TV tonight. She was really giving it everything she got.
Dawson sang a rendition of Alanis Morissettes Grammy-winning rock song You Oughta Know, which she said is typically the type of music she performs solo and with her former band, Acidic Brew.
I was in a band for eight years and I had such a good time doing it, but I didnt get any recognition doing it, Dawson said of her time with the group, which traveled regionally performing at different locations. I really missed it.
She said performing at Hillbilly Country last weekend was nostalgic and exciting, especially when she found out she won a spot on Talent Search TV.
I am excited that someone would come to a small town and look for talent, said Dawson. Im really in shock and dont know what to say. Its kind of like a dream come true to get noticed by somebody.
Whether she wins on this weeks episode of Talent Search TV and gets a shot at $500 at the Ribfest in Winston-Salem, she said this is only the beginning of her pursuit of a full-time singing career.
I had a little girl, so I havent had time to do anything. I had to get a baby-sitter just to try this (contest). I just like to sing, I would like to make it to American Idol, so everybody sees that I have talent, not just in this little town of Mount Airy, she said. Ive been singing since I could talk, and people totally dont know what to expect, and I like to give them the unexpected.
She might give the unexpected, her boyfriend, Jake Gilliam, 24, said, but one thing people can expect is a good show.
I think shes awesome, he said. I am proud of her, you just know when somebody can sing and she can sing. Anything that would come of this music-wise would be great, this is her dream and I wouldnt stand in the way of it.
Locke, Talent Search TV creator and producer, said he and his crew will return to Mount Airy on March 7 at 6 p.m. at Hillbilly Country for another area contest.
For more information, visit www.TalentSearchTV.info or call Bobby Locke at (336) 760-1380.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.