Wellington, FL - January 30, 2015 - Taylor Hughes proved the power of perseverance when she bested six other performers to win the fourth round of auditions for American Equestrians Got Talent. Hughes just missed the top three during the previous week's auditions, but she returned to The Grille Fashion Cuisine on Wednesday evening determined to impress the audience and judges alike. She first sang Jo Dee Messina's "Bring on the Rain" and received nothing but positive feedback from the judges. Bestselling author and dressage rider Tami Hoag, multilingual show announcer Nicho Meredith and accomplished U.S. dressage competitor Tuny Page were on the judging panel for this week's auditions. "You made me trust every word coming out of your mouth," Hoag told Hughes. "I loved it. It just exuded, 'I got this!'" Meredith added, "The easiest way to describe this is, 'Would I pay to see this person perform?' and the answer is a resounding yes."
Hughes earned a spot in the top three alongside Brian Lookabill, who opened the evening with a performance of "Walking in Memphis," and 12-year-old Kayden Muller, who sang "Feeling Good.
All three singers had to bring their A-game to stand out in the sing-off, and Hughes did just that with her performance of "Something to Talk About."
"You look like you're having as much fun as we are," judge Tuny Page said. "Your voice range is incredible. I'm super impressed."
Muller's beautiful rendition of A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera's "Say Something" earned her many fans, and the judges were impressed by her incredible talent and poise at such a young age. Lookabill also gave Hughes a run for her money and got the audience singing along with his performance of Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World." The crowd was so enthusiastic for all three performers that the judges had to break the tie, and Meredith announced Hughes as the winner.
After her disappointment the week before, Hughes took the judges' advice to set herself apart from the rest. She carefully selected songs that would demonstrate the range and quality of her voice.
"This week, I chose songs that allowed me to play with meaning," she said. "In the first song, I wanted to show range. It allowed me to manipulate the melody to suit my voice and hold out longer notes. In the second song, I wanted to show the grit and rasp in my voice with a more upbeat and sassy version. I think because I was confident in the songs I chose, I felt more ready and excited than nervous." For Hughes, the $500 prize sponsored by PSdressage.com came at a perfect time.
"My dog had hip surgery and isn't recovering as well as we'd hoped," she said. "He'll be needing physical therapy quite often to help strengthen his muscles. The very generous amount of money I won tonight is going to help me afford getting him back to a happy, fit and comfortable doggie!"
Hughes was thrilled to earn a spot in the March 15 final, where she will compete against the other audition winners for a $5,000 grand prize sponsored by Robert Ross, P.A., Luxury Equestrian Realtor for Keller Williams.
"It's so rewarding to be recognized for something that I love to do!" she exclaimed. "I have such a passion for music and performing, so to win at that makes me feel proud. I'm absolutely elated and extremely humbled because the other performers are so talented."
Auditions are held every Wednesday evening through March 4. Sign up to audition by contacting Robert Dover (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Several sponsors, led by Robert Ross, Kim and Fred Boyer, Equestrian Sport Productions,Tuny and David Page, and PSdressage.com, are supporting this exciting event. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Sara Ike (908-234-1251 or email@example.com.) or Robert Dover (Rdover2@aol.com).
American Equestrians Got Talent Fast Facts
- Spearheaded by U.S. Dressage Team Chef d'Equipe Robert Dover, American Equestrians Got Talent is the third annual East Coast fundraiser to benefit USEF High Performance Dressage programs through the USET Foundation.
- Contestants audition to earn their place in the season finale. Celebrity judges will be on hand at each audition to critique the performances, and the audience's applause will determine who moves forward to the finale and who goes back to the barn.
When: 7:30-10:00 p.m. every Wednesday evening from Jan. 7 through March 4, 2015
Where: The Grille Fashion Cuisine, 12300 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, Florida
Prize: PSdressage.com is sponsoring prizes of $500 to be awarded to the top performer at each audition.
Participants: Auditions are open to the entire equestrian community, including riders, grooms and others involved in any discipline from dressage and hunter/jumpers to polo and Western. Please sign up in advance by contacting Robert Dover (Rdover2@aol.com). Walk-ins accepted if space is available.
When: March 15, 2015
Where: The Stadium at PBIEC (Global Dressage Festival show grounds), 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, Florida
Prize: The winner, who will be named America's Most Talented Equestrian, will receive a grand prize of $5,000 sponsored by Robert Ross, P.A., Luxury Equestrian Realtor for Keller Williams.
The United States Equestrian Team Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.