Talent heats up for ‘Amateur Night’ finals

08/22/2014 12:00 AM

08/21/2014 4:53 PM

A 16-week showdown whose winners get a shot at performing at New York’s legendary Apollo Theater begins wrapping up Sunday night.

The children’s finals of “Amateur Night at the Hayti,” a fundraiser for Next Level Veterans Outreach Campus Treatment Center, gets underway at 6 p.m. at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham.

The adult’s finals will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14.

“It has been just great,” said Captain Newborn, director of the nonprofit center, which serves veterans affected by brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and sexual trauma, among other needs.

“The amount of talent we have, I’m just amazed,” he said.

The children’s finalists come from across North Carolina. They are Jadin Haynes, Evelin Kembe, Kevin Bowick, De’Ericka Spruiell, Simeria Tate, Zaire Ariana Johnson, Aliyaha Grant, Alyssa Richardson, Timmy Richardson, Omeri Allen, Anyia Allen, Precious Boyd, Joshua Ham, The Beasley Connection and Azaria Shabaz,

Just like at the Apollo, the winner will be chosen by the audience’s cheers and applause.

Acts that got booed during the preliminary rounds were literally swept off the Hayti stage by the Sandman, a funky, dancing clown with a broom.

The winners in the children’s and adult’s competition win an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the Apollo audition. The amateur night there, which began in 1934, has featured such future stars as Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Sarah Vaughn and Bill Cosby.

The adult’s finals will feature 24 acts because of several ties their first time out.

“The talent was so good we had to put them through,” Newborn said, including one group that sang a Temptations song and another that sang a Whispers song and then faced a sing-off on a Spinners number.

“The crowd could not decide who the winner was,” he said.

Schultz: 919-9323-2003

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