A mother-son duo won big during the eighth annual Dixie’s Got Talent finale at Dixie State University’s M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center.
McKenzie Turley and her 9-year-old son, Crew Turley, took home the first place prize in both the adult and youth divisions Thursday. Both victors are musicians who played high-energy piano pieces that demonstrated a high level of technical skill and entertainment value.
This year the Dixie’s Got Talent winners earned a cash prize, as in past years, and an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles for a chance to audition on America’s Got Talent on Feb 3.
Twenty final contestants competed before a star-studded group of judges and an audience of over 1,000 people after progressing through two preliminary stages of the competition. The audience was able to vote for their favorite adult and youth contestants at the end of the show. Audience and judges’ votes each swayed the decision by 50 percent.
“You could feel the energy in here, and it was just crazy,” said Del Beatty, dean of students and producer of Dixie’s Got Talent.
Josian Brett, a freshman theater major from Spokane, Washington, was one of the six DSU student finalists. Brett said the highlight of the experience for her was having the chance to learn and grow as a vocalist.
“Just try new things, “ Brett said. “I was nervous just to try but if you give it your all, you’re going to succeed in the end.”
Likewise, Annie Schutz, a freshman theater major from Salt Lake City, said confidence is key when performing.
“Go into it with a positive attitude,” she said. “Don’t worry too much about it and just be natural…I learned a lot by being around these [contestants].”
Jordon Sharp, host and chief marketing and communication officer, announced one of the star judges, Alex Boye, YouTube musician and prior America’s Got Talent contestant, will be recording his new video with DSU and holding a concert at the M. Anthony Burns Arena on March 3 to fundraise for DSU scholarships. Sharp said the concert will be the biggest fundraising event of the year for need-based scholarships.
Judge Merrill Osmond, whose band, Osmonds Family, has been awarded 27 gold records, is currently teaming up with DSU to create the “Osmond Center for Productions” on campus. He is also working to create a degree program for DSU production students.
Dixie’s Got Talent, hosted by the DSU Student Alumni Association, donates all funds raised to need-based scholarships for DSU students. The funds assist people in situations that cut off their access to education; people who wouldn’t be able to go to school otherwise.
“The most important thing is raising the scholarship money,” Beatty said. “That’s what it’s all about.”