On Thursday evening, 18 January 2018, twenty of the most talented solo and group acts from Washington County, Utah, took the stage at the M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center on the Dixie State University campus in St. George, Utah. They all had hopes and aspirations of becoming the winner of the Dixie’s Got Talent 2018 Finale, hosted by the Dixie State University Alumni Association. Two of the contestants were McKinsey Turley and her son Crew Turley, both playing the piano.
The contestants displayed an array of talent from vocal and dance acts to poetry and piano, before a distinguished panel of judges and an almost sold-out crowd. Cash prizes were awarded to one runner-up ($250) and one winner ($500) in both the youth (17 and under) and adult (18 and over) categories.
Vocalists Kierstyn Meredith (youth) and Josian Brett (adult) took home the runner-up awards and $250 each. Brett, a member of the Dixie State University singing group Raging Red, said that she felt awesome about her performance. She is looking forward to touring Japan with Raging Red later this year, and hopes to pursue a music career, hopefully on Broadway. Meredith, who was the first contestant up, was excited about making it to the finals, adding that she had worked hard on her song with her vocal coach.
The winner in the youth and adult categories went to the mother and son duo of McKenzie and Crew Turley. Both won $500 and a trip to Los Angeles, California, to audition for the reality television competition America’s Got Talent. McKenzie told St. George News, “This is amazing. It’s just such an awesome experience to do this with my son.” She is normally a vocal performer and admits that playing the piano on stage was a bit outside her comfort zone.
The star of the evening was undoubtedly Crew Turley who left the judges and the audience awestruck with his comical and well-rehearsed pirate-themed piano number from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” He remarked, “I’m feeling amazing. This is super great and an awesome opportunity for me.”
When asked if they planned to audition for America’s Got Talent both mother and son answered with a resounding “heck yeah.”
Fifty percent of the winners’ score was from the judges, and audience voting made up the other fifty percent. The judges for the Dixie’s Got Talent 2018 competition included international performer and YouTube sensation Alex Boyé, Grammy-nominated artist Merrill Osmond, St. George Health & Wellness magazine editor Kristi Osmond, former Miss Utah Krissia Hall, emergency medicine specialist Dr. Nate Holman, Broadway-touring performer Rachel Holman, and director of the DSU Campus Store Aaron Meadows. Hall commented, “Tonight was really difficult because everyone was so talented. We just wanted to see who brought their ‘A’ game tonight.” She also said that the judges were happy with the results and extended congratulations to each of the well-deserved finalists.
The Dixie’s Got Talent competition, started by the Dixie Scholarship Associates, is a way to encourage the performing arts and raise funds to support scholarships that help students in need. Producer of the event, and Dixie State University Dean of Students, Del Beatty, said, “All of the money we raise, every penny we make and raise goes to needs-based scholarships.” He continued, “The scholarships provide an opportunity to go to school to people who have faced significant challenges; circumstances such as the death of a loved one, health challenges, divorce or career setbacks.”
Dixie’s Got Talent is produced with the cooperation of the Dixie State University Student Alumni Association, Dixie Foundation and Dixie State University.
Dr. Jordon Sharp, DSU’s chief marketing and communications officer and the adult winner (along with his wife) of the Dixie’s Got Talent 2016 Finale, was the emcee for the evening.