The inaugural Laurel Youth Music Showcase, a summer open mic series for local children and teenagers, concluded Thursday evening, Sept. 5, with a finale concert at Granville Gude Park.
Laurel resident NicKayla Tucker, 16, emerged victorious in the evening's competition, one of seven acts chosen for the final showcase. Tucker sang Adele's "Someone Like You" and an original song, "No Permission." No stranger to the stage, her previous performance credits include a stint on Broadway as Young Nala in "The Lion King" and an appearance on "Law and Order SVU."
"I thought [winning the showcase] was amazing," Tucker said. "I was so glad to get the opportunity to not only perform, but to witness all the talent the youth in Laurel had to offer."
Laurel production company Breasia Studios and the Laurel Department of Parks and Recreation began hosting the weekly showcase at the park in June. Young musicians could sign up to perform covers or original material, and the most popular act from each week, as determined by an online poll, was invited to play the finale concert.
Seven acts performed Thursday night and competed for an opportunity to record and master a song at Breasia Studios. In the style of "American Idol," the concert also featured three judges: Breasia founder Jamal Lee, entertainment publicist Clifton Futch and producer Daren Joseph. The judges made comments after each performance, and an audience applause vote was used to pick the winner at the end of the night.
Breasia business manager Nailah Lee said the majority of the showcase competitors performed original music.
"They were really good songs," Lee said. "We got a lot of compliments from parents and people that came."
New York-based singer-songwriter Nessa Dove and her backing band also performed Thursday as a featured guest act. Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, City Council member Valerie Nicholas and Parks and Recreation program specialist Bonny DuCote also attended the finale concert and briefly spoke to the audience.
Lee said she felt the performances and the large audience made the event a resounding success.
"We were really happy," she said. "The response we got from the audience was extremely positive."
Breasia will return its focus to event production and artist management, Lee said, but the company hopes to work with the city to put on another youth music showcase next year.
"It was wonderful to have an avenue for teenagers to perform and share their music," she said.