Soca singer Stephen Gore claims Antigua’s Got Talent crown

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Commanding vocal chords and an exhilarating stage presence proved to be the winning combination for one young singer who swept to victory on Saturday night to claim the Antigua’s Got Talent crown.

Stephen Gore is no stranger to the stage with more than a decade’s experience in the entertainment industry. But it was the first time the 33-year-old dancer and choreographer from Piggotts had put his skills to the public test on the mic’.

His performance of Tian Winter’s ‘In De Dance’ earned a rapturous reception from the audience of more than 400 local residents who turned out to watch the show at Lucky Eddi’s bar and restaurant in English Harbour.

Gore said he was “elated” to win the title, which also saw him presented with a Samsung Galaxy S22 courtesy of headline sponsor FLOW.

The seasoned dancer, who has worked with a host of local stars including Claudette Peters, Tizzy and Tian Winter himself, revealed that he had taken special voice training to prepare for the show.

“I am accustomed to being on stage but I’m usually watching these performers from behind. It’s been a while that I have wanted to branch off from dancing into singing,” he said.

“I did vigorous practice and it went off well. It was a great experience; everyone loved the performance,” he added.

As with the inaugural edition in 2019, the second Antigua’s Got Talent was held in aid of PAAWS animal charity which runs a rescue and rehoming shelter for dogs and cats in Parham.

The event raised more than EC$15,000 for the organisation. The bulk of the money was collected via a raffle drawn on the night which had a two-night staycation for two at the exclusive Hermitage Bay resort as top prize.

The show opened with a performance by teen singer Ajanae Bleau, winner of the first Antigua’s Got Talent. The 14-year-old raised the roof with a powerful rendition of Beyonce’s 2006 hit ‘Listen’.

A six-minute video – created by Luxury Locations Real Estate – about PAAWS’ work was also screened prior to the first of 18 contestants taking to the stage.

Entrants were given marks out of 10 for creativity, talent, stage presence, audience response and overall performance by a panel of four celebrity judges. They were singer and songwriter Asher Otto, British musician Rachel Fuller – an artiste, composer and occasional collaborator with her rock star husband Pete Townshend of The Who – guitarist, sound engineer and owner of Irie Fire recording studio Hani Hechme, and classical pianist Michele Delco.

Pannist Demetry Joseph claimed second place with ‘Pan in A Minor’, winning him a staycation at the luxurious Gunpowder Suites in Nelson’s Dockyard.

Singer N’Dea Joseph was third with a rousing performance of Jennifer Hudson’s ‘The Impossible Dream’. She won day passes to the Blue Waters resort.

“We were overwhelmed by the talent on display and we look forward to seeing more from all of the participants,” said PAAWS board member and public relations officer Gemma Handy.

“We were absolutely delighted with the turnout and thrilled to have raised such a significant sum for our shelter. Every single cent will go towards helping more dogs and cats get a second chance at life.

“I’d like to send heartfelt thanks to our headline sponsor FLOW and everyone who donated gifts for the winners and for the raffle – we could not have done the show without you.

“Also a special thanks to Lucky Eddi’s for hosting the event, along with the judges, DJ Purist and our fabulous host Ibis the Livest who all generously gave their time.

“We are also incredibly grateful to our team of volunteers who worked assiduously behind the scenes, in particular Laura Barber who organised the raffle and stage manager Michelle Bates who ensured the show’s flawless execution,” she added.

Special guests in attendance included Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez who congratulated the “truly outstanding” performers.

He urged those in attendance to support PAAWS and praised the charity for the work it does to reduce the number of sick and suffering strays on the nation’s streets.

 

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