Next week is BGCA’s 113th National Conference! Club staff from across the world (shout-out to Youth Centers on military installations!) will be gathering together to celebrate our accomplishments, learn all about the newest initiatives, and network with one another. One of the absolute best parts of National Conference are the INCREDIBLE youth performers that wow us with their talents throughout not only this event, but at other regional conferences and events throughout the year.
Every year, hundreds of talented youth ages 6-18 send in video auditions for a chance to be selected as a National Youth Talent Performer. Submissions span a broad range of talents including, singing, dancing, comedy, spoken word poetry, and more. After several rounds of judging, only 10 acts were chosen to perform, and these youth represent Clubs from across the nation!
We are so happy to introduce you to this year’s performers (including some exclusive audition videos!), but first, let’s talk a little about why performing arts are important.
The performing arts refer to forms of art where an artist uses their own voice, body, and presence to convey artistic expression. Some of the major types include music, dance, drama, spoken word, and even stand-up comedy.
According to this blog post from Scholastic, being involved in performing arts has a TON of benefits. Research says that children who participate in them are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than their non-performing peers, along with a host of other developmental benefits. They include learning how to think on your feet, lessening anxiety, empathy, increased self-esteem, and more. Performing arts also give young people a chance to work on their memorization skills, perseverance, and are a great way to make friends and participate in self-expression.
Unfortunately, opportunities to participate in performing arts (and arts in general) are less and less common during the school day, despite all of the benefits. But Boys & Girls Clubs can step right into this gap! Many Clubs include performing arts in their overall arts programming, and give young people chances to show off their skills at events and performances. Program staff can incorporate performing arts even in small ways! In my Education room at the Club, we often performed Reader’s Theaters to learn about historic events or classic literature while having fun.
Without further ado, let’s meet the 2019 National Youth Talent Performers!
Luke C. from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, the 2019 National Talent Ambassador!
Luke became a viral internet sensation after an impromptu performance on stage with Idina Menzel at Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. Luke has been a member of Boys & Girls Clubs since he was six years old. He is a vocalist, songwriter, and plays guitar, ukulele, and piano. He released on EP in June 2018. Luke performs regularly for charitable events and is a much sought after national anthem singer. He also performed at the BGCA’s 2018 National Conference.
Check out Luke’s performance on Ellen!
Addison P. from Minot AFB Youth Programs
Addison is from North Dakota. She loves dance, ballet and acrobatics. Addison has been a part of her local Boys & Girls Clubs of America Affiliated Youth Center since she was five years old. Addison currently is the two time national champion for Ovation Dance Challenge in the intermediate petite division. She also holds the title of Ms. Ovation Fargo, GEMS high point 11 and under and is a fit model for Ovation Dance where she can be seen modeling their attire on advertisements all over the country. Addison is known for her power and grace by combining dance with acrobatics. She has won multiple platinum awards, judge’s choice awards, scholarships, high point, upcoming star and top honors in her short career of competitive dance and ballet. In the summer she studies with the Joffrey Ballet in hopes to join their company when she is older.
Check out Addison’s audition video!
Bradford M. from Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice
At the age of six, Bradford learned to play the guitar and continued to do so throughout her young years. It was in middle school when Bradford discovered music to be her true passion. Bradford began writing and recording her own music, releasing her very first single “Jesse James” right before high school. Since then, she has created many original pieces and continues to record in hopes to release her very own EP soon. She is currently producing, recording and mixing her EP at the Scott Litt Music Studio located at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice and she continues to perform at a student run open mic in Mira Costa called In-House. Bradford’s passion and dedication led her to earning the title of In-House curator where she is now responsible for providing young musicians with a platform to express themselves through performing arts. Bradford’s ultimate goal is to someday become a successful music producer, sound engineer and songwriter in hopes to help others find success in the music world.
Darius D. from Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County
Darius has attended the Boys & Girls Club for six years. He is an active member of his Club’s Torch Club and Keystone programs and enjoys participating in community service projects. Darius participates in his school theater program often and for the last four summers has attended the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, where he performed in Tina Against the Odds, Price, and 80’s and 90’s Revue, among others. Darius has also auditioned for America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and held a number one spot on K104’s Talented Kids contest for four weeks.
Elanne E. from Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama
Elanne is born and raised in Alabama. Singing and using her voice to connect with her peers around the world is her passion and a goal she hopes to reach in the next few years. Aside from singing, she handles a busy schedule of being a member of Keystone, a junior advisor of Torch Club, a member of FCCLA and Key Club, an All-Star cheerleader, a youth praise team leader, a school theater performer, and the Cody Road Youth of the Year. She loves staying busy and her next quest is to learn piano and guitar as well as start a YouTube channel. In the fall she will be attending college in Alabama having received a Presidential Scholarship where she will double major in Business and Music.
Gabrianna has been a Club member for over seven years. Along with contributing countless hours volunteering at her Boys & Girls Club, she is also someone all the Club kids look up to. She participates in many Club programs including SMART Girls, Image Makers, Torch club and ZCLUB where she discovered her passion for performing. Gabrianna has landed many lead roles in community theatre such as Annie, Wizard of Oz, Heathers, and Little Mermaid. She won the Chanter Une Chanson Talent competition, and landed a spot at the Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Conservatory.
Leonard A. from Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County
Leonard is a senior in high school and has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club since he was six years old. He participates in band, cheer, majorettes, Lyric Theater Academy and Keystone. He plans to attend College in New York in the fall of 2019.
Matthew B. from Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield
Matthew has been attending the Boys & Girls Club for two years. Last year, he performed as the Cat in the Hat in the Club’s production of Seussical, Jr. This year, he will be playing Oliver Warbucks in Annie, Jr. He has also attended the Club’s Summer Theater Camp and takes dance at the Club. Matthew has been recognized as a Youth of the Month and Youth of the Summer. Matthew sings in his school choir and plays saxophone in the band. When he is not sharing his talents with the Boys & Girls Club or his school, Matthew is also performing in his local community. He has performed in The Little Mermaid with Exit 7 Theater; Honk with Good Company Theater; and Mary Poppins with Bay Path University. He currently takes voice lessons at the Hartt School of Music and was recently selected to sing in their Vocal Honors Program.
Music Fusion from Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County
Music Fusion, established in 2013, is proud to be the performance team for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County. This hard working, enthusiastic squad dedicates their time to promoting goodwill throughout the community and bringing awareness to the amazing programs and opportunities available through the Club. They have performed all over Bakersfield and neighboring cities for organizations like the Red Cross, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Veterans Clubs, Community Colleges as well as Private Parties and Company Events. Music Fusion has had the honor of performing for esteemed visitors to the Club including, Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush, Sugar Ray Leonard and Greg Gumbel as well as attending and performing in National and Regional conferences in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas. Music Fusion strives to ignite passion in the hearts of their audiences and hopes to inspire positivity, harmony and unity.
Check out Music Fusion’s audition video!
Troy S. from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis
Troy is a sophomore in high school and attends his Boys & Girls Club regularly. He is a choir member and has been a part of The St. Louis Muny, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater, since 2015. He enjoys singing, acting, and dancing and he loves helping others.
If you will be at BGCA’s 2019 National Conference, be sure to attend every general session so that you don’t miss a single performance! For those who won’t be there, follow the BGCA Youth Development page on Facebook where we will post some of the highlights.
For more on BGCA programs that support performing and visual arts, Club staff can visit BGCA.net/Arts.
How does your Club offer performing arts programming to youth? What benefits have you seen in youth that participate in arts programming? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email us at ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share!