Talent showcase sees success

Nyah Branch, a 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Monmouth, took first place and the overall performance on Saturday evening.

Photo by Jennifer Biberston
Nyah Branch, a 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Monmouth, took first place and the overall performance on Saturday evening.

RICKREALL — After a six year hiatus, the talent showcase was brought back to the 2018 Polk County Fair.


Josh Marley, winner of the youth talent showcase, belts out a song on stage.

Seats were packed Friday night for the youth talent showcase for ages 4-12, which began at 6 p.m., and featured two dancers and two singers.

Saturday, the crowd returned for the adult talent showcase for participants 13 and older, which began at 8 p.m.

Performing on the stage were tap dancers, four singers/guitar players, two singers, a yodeler, a piano composer and a band comprised of four siblings called Zoe Imperium.

There were three judges in both shows to make the final call for winners and runners up.

Friday night, 11-year-old singer Joshua Marley of Salem won first place in the youth showcase, winning $300 and a chance to perform in the adult showcase the following night.

Second place winner was 10-year-old dancer and gymnast Annabelle Foster, who lives in Dallas.

Marley has been singing “for a long time,” he said, in churches and at school. He also plays the piano and the cello, and enjoys all types of music.

“I don’t have a favorite band, but I do have a favorite composer, Christopher Madigan.”

Getting up in front of a crowd can be nerve wracking, and Marley said he was a little nervous throughout his performance.

His solution to combating those nerves: “Not to be nervous.”

Saturday evening, Nyah Branch, a 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Monmouth, took the first place prize of $500, as well as an overall performance award of $100.

This was only her second time performing in a talent show.

“I think it went well. It was really, really fun,” Branch said. “I’ve done this once before when I was nine, but this is only my second time doing it.”

Branch sang ‘Bless the Child’ by Billie Holliday, and played guitar.

“I was so nervous,” she said, laughing. “I wasn’t nervous walking up, and then once I started, I got really nervous.”

Despite the nerves, Branch is no stranger to performing in front of a crowd. Last year, she spent a few weeks in London, performing at a few clubs.

“I was signed to a manager and then we planned a whole trip around it. I may be going back this October,” she said. “I played two different shows, and I played with a bassist and a drummer. I was over there for two weeks, and this time I may be going for about five.”

Branch may be a small towner, but she’s someone to watch for in the future.

“I’m a songwriter, I love writing songs so I just want to write as many as I can and perform as much as I can,” she said.

The second-place winner of the night was singer/songwriter Evie Olliff.

The fair had to take the talent shows away in 2012 because there was no one in charge to run it, but when Polk County Women’s Club stepped up to be in charge of organizing the showcase, fair manager Tina Andersen said she was excited.

“We’ve been wanting to bring it back,” she said.

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