- Adowyn Byrne
Kids and teens have felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in inummerable ways. For those who are natural-born performers, one thing they've surely missed is the opportunity to entertain an audience. At Kids VT, we wanted to find a way for those young people to shine. Luckily, our marketing and events manager Corey Grenier had a spectacular idea.
For the past six years, we've hosted a talent show for Vermont's youth at Higher Ground in South Burlington every December — the Spectacular Spectacular. But in September, when we usually start planning for the event, it became clear that we wouldn't be able to safely hold auditions, let alone put on a live show with hundreds of spectators. So, we decided to adapt.
Grenier came up with the idea of partnering with local television station WCAX-TV to hold a virtual talent show, and they were just as excited as we were. We asked kids to send us two-minute audition videos recorded from the comfort of their homes — which opened up the process to those from all parts of the state. In normal years, we usually have 20 to 30 acts audition for the show. This year we had almost 50!
A panel of judges from Kids VT and Seven Days had the very difficult task of choosing just 15 acts for the small screen. "I definitely cried at least three times while watching the videos," said Grenier.
The chosen performers are being featured on WCAX's weekday news broadcast, between 4:30 and 5 p.m., from November 30 to December 18.
Said Grenier: "Watching these kids perform is the type of positive, heartfelt content we need right now." We hope you agree.
Read on to learn some fun and funky facts about of all of this year's performers, and find the full lineup at kidsvt.com/talentshow.
Adowyn Byrne, 16, Essex, Essex High School
Singing and playing ukulele to "Some Kind of Love," an original song
What inspires you? My family and friends inspire me every day. My songs are all created when I feel a really strong emotion or want to tell a story about something in my life. Anything that makes me feel strongly is fair game.
Who is your favorite performer? Ed Sheeran is my favorite performer, hands down. He writes meaningful songs that touch a lot of people. He also plays entire concerts with just his guitar and loop pedal. Itzhak Perlman is a close second though!
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Any field hockey field
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I might be a professional musician, get my PhD in classical mythology, go to medical school, or maybe reform the school system. I like to keep my options open!
Charlie Schramm, 12, Shelburne, Shelburne Community School
- Charlie Schramm
Singing and playing the guitar to "Lean," an original song
Who is your favorite performer? I like musicians that I can relate to. Some examples are U2 and Ed Sheeran.
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Bolton Valley
What's your favorite food? Sushi
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Ski or mountain bike
Eliora Raiche, 5, Fairfax, Homeschool
- Eliora Raiche
Singing "Simple Gifts" with piano accompaniment
Who inspires you? Mommy and Daddy
What's your favorite food? Chicken fingers
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I would have a job, maybe a marine biologist.
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? I would play games, eat shrimp lo mein, go to Grandma and Grandpa's, and eat cake.
Lily James, 16, Monkton, Mount Abraham Union High School
- Lily James
Singing and playing the guitar to "Apocalypse," an original song
Who is your favorite performer? Probably Freddie Mercury of Queen. Sadly, I will never get to see him live, but his legacy speaks for him. I really love the different musical influences in his songs and try to replicate his energy on stage that made him fantastic to watch.
What's your favorite Vermont destination? I love being in Burlington. The bohemian atmosphere of the city really resonates with me. Whether it's walking down Church Street with my guitar or down by the waterfront, it's just a great city.
What makes you laugh? My friends. They are such goofs. I love them all.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Out in the world, hopefully. I don't know exactly where I'll go yet. But I plan to pursue a career in acting, while keeping up with my music. Wherever I am, I'll be trying to hone my craft.
Judah Kol, 8, Post Mills, Open Fields School
- Judah Kol
Improvised djembe drumming
Who inspires you? Patrick and Megan, my music teachers
What's your favorite Vermont destination? The Post Mills airport
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Driving a Tesla in New York City.
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Go sledding and skiing
Rowan and Wilson Goldblatt, 10 and 7, Montpelier, Union Elementary School
- Rowan (left) and Wilson Goldblatt
Piano duet to "Russian Sailor Dance," a traditional Russian folk song
Who inspires you? Cam Newton from the Patriots and Feliks Zemdegs, an Australian world-record Rubik's Cuber
What's your favorite food?
Rowan: Rice Krispies
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Walking in the woods near our house with our puppy and swimming in Lake Champlain in the summer
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Rowan wants to buy land and build a giant mansion with lots of puppies and pools. Wilson wants to live in the same house and be cool and pat all the puppies.
Sabrina Cyphers, 9, Colchester, Malletts Bay School
- Sabrina Cyphers
Singing "Take Me the Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson
Who is your favorite performer? My favorite television performer is Madison Reyes in [the Netflix series] "Julie and the Phantoms." My first live show was Max Weinberg at the T-Rex Theater in Essex. It was so much fun. They played requests, and at the end we got to dance on stage.
What is your favorite Vermont destination? My cousin Josi's farm in Newport Center
What's your favorite food? I can't decide between my Aunt Jenn's mac and cheese, my neighbor Sarah's cornbread, Koto's noodles, or the East Side Restaurant's chicken and biscuits.
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? I would go to Jay Peak Waterpark or the Champlain Valley Fair.
Sam Acus, 13, Richmond, Camels Hump Middle School
- Sam Acus
Singing and playing the mandolin to "Autumn Leaves" by Joseph Kosma, Jacques Prévert and Johnny Mercer
What inspires you? Anything in the styles of the '30s to the '70s! I particularly like Benny Goodman, the Beatles and Pink Floyd
What's your favorite Vermont destination? In Tunbridge there is a festival yearly called Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival. I would go there if I could go anywhere in Vermont.
What's your favorite food? Can't get me nothing better that a good ol' hamburger!
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? I would go to Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival [in Oak Hill, N.Y.] and play a show on the main stage, jam with everyone and generally have a great time with my mandolin.
Cailin Clare Fitzgerald, 9, South Burlington, Homeschool
- Cailin Clare Fitzgerald
Playing Handel's Violin Sonata in d major
What inspires you? Stories with fantasy and adventure
What makes you laugh? My dog Zelda
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Overlook Park
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Skydive with my dog
Evan and Adim Benoit, 12 and 8, Montpelier, Homeschool
- Evan (left) and Adim Benoit
Playing piano to "Pirates of the Caribbean"
Who inspires you? Our piano teacher, JD Williams, and each other
What's your favorite food? We like homemade pizza and tacos made by our mom.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? We will be performing at Carnegie Hall.
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Evan would mountain bike and Adim would metal detect.
Elijah Duhamel, 13, St. Albans, Homeschool
- Elijah Duhamel
Playing the guitar to "Strange Déjà vu" by Dream Theater
Who inspires you? I was inspired by my parents to try and play such a difficult piece. The clip is a two-minute section of a hourlong metal song. My guitar teacher, Brian Maple, introduced me to this band and is still helping me to master this song.
What makes you laugh? Almost everything. (I have a peculiar sense of humor.)
What's your favorite food? I love jelly donuts.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see myself owning a fishing charter business while working on a PhD in marine biology.
Paris Schoolcraft, 8, Duxbury, Thatcher Brook Primary School
- Paris Schoolcraft
Singing "Diamonds" by Rihanna
Who is your favorite performer? Alicia Keys
What makes you laugh? Jokes and both my brothers
What's your favorite food? Strawberries, or any kind of fruit
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In 10 years I see myself being a famous singer and a senior in high school. I will be getting ready for college, and I will study how to be a famous gymnast and songwriter.
Phin Holzhammer, 16, Middlebury, Homeschool
- Phin Holzhammer
Singing and playing keyboard to "Walk the Bone," an original composition
Who is your favorite performer? Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys
What makes you laugh? John Mulaney, my weirdo friends, random old Vines nobody remembers and my Uncle Kenny
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Stone Leaf Teahouse
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Either an artist/writer of some sort or the leader of a cheese cult.
Lucas Moran, 11, Colchester, Colchester Middle School
- Lucas Moran
Singing "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton: An American Musical
Who is your favorite performer? Right now I really enjoy watching Hamilton, and of course Jonathan Groff is really funny and a great performer. I also love Jeremy Jordan in Newsies. Locally, I'd have to say everyone at Lyric Theatre Company.
What makes you laugh? When I am backstage at shows and silly things happen or someone makes a funny mistake on stage. I also really like silly cat videos!
What's your favorite Vermont destination? I really love my Treewild Forest Classroom and being on the lake.
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? I would go to New Hampshire and Florida and Massachusetts and Montana to see my family, because I really, really miss them. I'd also give hugs to everyone I can't hug right now. I'd want to have all the Matilda cast together again, too.
Andre Redmond, 9, Essex Junction, Founders Memorial School
- Andre Redmond
Singing "Guns and Ships" from Hamilton: An American Musical
Who inspires you? My dad and Lin-Manuel Miranda
What's your favorite Vermont destination? Smugglers' Notch
What's your favorite food? Tofu
If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? I'd go to a Hall & Oates concert