Heights' Got Talent finals captivate Cain Park
The first Heights’ Got Talent contest took place on Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Evans Amphitheater at Cain Park. It was a huge success, and all of the 16 finalists who took part in the show were, indeed, very talented.
The competition was sponsored by Motorcars, the Cleveland Heights-based Toyota and Honda dealer, and Trevor Gile, the general manager of Motorcars Honda and the son of Motorcars owner Chuck Gile, came up with the idea last September. The contest was based on “America’s Got Talent,” and performers wishing to take part in the show had to live in Northeast Ohio and had to submit videos to Motorcars. More than 50 artists entered the contest, and their videos were posted on a website, where the initial round of voting took place. The top 16 vote-getters made it to the finals.
The finalists covered all age groups, with the youngest being 10 and the oldest, 76, and included singers, bands, dancers and acrobats. A group of judges—me; Chuck Gile; Tommy Fello, the owner of Tommy’s restaurant; Jeff Robertson, the Cleveland Heights police chief; and Allan Licht, a vocal and piano teacher and record producer—determined the winners. “It was a very, very well-run event,” Licht said. “It was a great community event that showcased amazing talent. It was very inspiring.”
The first-place winner was the Stockdale Family Band. The group comprises three brothers—Charles Stockdale, 24, who plays mandolin; Jacob Stockdale, 22, who plays fiddle, and James Stockdale, 18, who plays bass—and their father, Tim Stockdale, who plays guitar. The band is based in Bolivar, near Canton, and its music is a blend of bluegrass and gospel. The group has released four CDs. “It was great fun,” Charles Stockdale said. “We didn’t expect to win at all, and there was a lot of great talent there.”
The second-place winner was 80s Meets Modern, a trio of two dancers and a DJ. As the DJ played music, the other two members danced around the stage, with some amazing and often humorous moves. Jacob Stockdale said the trio was one of his favorite groups. “They commanded the stage,” he said. “They had great stage presence.”
Ana Noel, a 10-year-old girl from Willoughby, finished in third place. An acrobat, she was amazing, doing flips and jumps all over the stage.
Three other performers also got honorable mentions: Danielle Apple, a singer who attends the Boston Conservatory; Maryann Kusner, a singer who’s a junior at Mayfield High School, and Maddy Wanke, a 13-year-old vocalist from Richmond Heights.
The first-place winner took home $1,000, with the second- and third-place finishers receiving $500 and $250, respectively.
In addition to the performers, the show included a terrific emcee, Rick Smith Jr. A Cleveland resident, Smith is a magician and illusionist who has appeared on numerous TV shows over the years. He did some terrific card tricks, including throwing a playing card from the stage all the way across the audience, into the grass behind the amphitheater.
Overall, it was a tremendous event and a wonderful evening at Cain Park. “Motorcars is very thankful to the City of Cleveland Heights and to the Cain Park staff,” said Christy Hurles, a marketing associate at Motorcars and one of the event’s main organizers. “The Cain Park staff was more than accommodating, and they went above and beyond the call of duty to help us pull this off.”
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.