Students Take Stage on Friday for Hamptons Got Talent

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Last year's winner of Hamptons Got Talent, Juan Munoz.

Fifteen acts. Three judges. One competition.

This is Hamptons Got Talent.

On Friday night, 19 local singers, songwriters and dancers will take to the stage at Hampton Bays High School to battle it out for first place — and bragging rights — at the fifth annual competition.

The catch: not one performer is over age 18.

“I think it’s going to be a great show this year. We have a very diverse group of acts and I think everybody is very special in their own way. Each performance definitely adds something to the show,” explained Peter Strecker, neighborhood aide and event coordinator for the Southampton Youth Bureau, which hosts the competition. “This year, we have a lot of new acts. Everybody is very talented, so I think it’s going to be a little bit of a tough competition.”

The layout is simple. Each performer or group has a chance to give it their all in the first round before an intermission, during which the judges — jazz musician Charles Certain, actor Tramar Pettaway and Hampton Coffee Company manager Joe Harris — decide the seven acts that proceed to round two.

Last year, cousins Jaeda and Akasha Gant made the cut.

“When we first stepped on the stage, I felt so nervous, I thought I messed up the song,” said 12-year-old Akasha, a sixth-grader at Bridgehampton School. “But we actually got to the second round and after the second song, I was crying because I was so happy that I actually did that. I’m not really used to all of the attention.”

The top three from last year were, from left to right, Juan Munoz, Nora Conlon and Maya Teixeira.

They wouldn’t go on to place in the top three — those honors would go to Juan Munoz, Maya Teixeira, who also won the People’s Choice Award, and Nora Conlon, respectively — but they’re back with more energy and vigor than before.

“We’ve been singing together about six or seven years. We’ve been singing since we were little,” 15-year-old Jaeda, who is ninth grade at Bridgehampton School. “It’s been good. We’ve both been with each other since we were born.”

“Sometimes she’s annoying, but that’s fine,” Akasha added with a laugh. “She’s really nice to me, and I think our voices match up right. I think we might actually win this one.”

Eighth grader Indira Roth plans to give them a run for their money. This will be the first talent competition for the 13-year-old Sag Harbor native, but it has been a long time coming, she explained.

“I’ve been singing since, literally, my whole life — since I was a baby,” she said. “I’ve always loved singing. When I was little, I was singing a lot with my father and he really taught me how to sing, and ever since, it’s just been something that I enjoy doing in my free time, or just walking around.”

On the night of the show, Indira will face the first round with Andra Day’s song “Rise Up,” and she will sing the chorus, “And I’ll rise up/I’ll rise like the day/I’ll rise up/I’ll rise unafraid.”

“I really like the message — like, rising up,” Indira said. “I’m a shy person but I feel like that song will help me rise up to the challenge. I feel ready, but I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t done a competition at all.”

She paused. “But, I’m ready.”

The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau will host its fifth annual Hamptons Got Talent competition, hosted by singer-songwriter Matt White, on Friday, March 2, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Hampton Bays High School, located at 88 Argonne Road East in Hampton Bays. Admission is $10. For more information, please call the (631) 702-2425 or visit southamptontownny.gov/youthbureau. 

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