Sophomore Singers Stun at FGT Finale

Kayla Lorimer manages a hard-won victory at Frederick’s Got Talent


Kenna Tarnowski

Sophomore Kayla Lorimer won Frederick’s Got Talent thanks to a song she wrote and composed herself.

Brandon Coon, Staff Adviser

Audiences were blown away Wednesday night at the finale of the annual Frederick’s Got Talent competition. While the night started with brilliant performances by five of Frederick’s best artists, the evening came down to a battle between two powerhouse sophomore singers and a narrow win for a young student songwriter.

First to perform was senior Malachi MacCloud, who chose to cover “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by the late Tom Petty. “[Petty] has always been one of my favorite artists,” he told us. “I was honestly shocked when he died and was like, Oh my God, why’d he go?” Taking the stage in his rumpled shirt and shades, Malachi powered through some initial mic trouble to deliver a soulful rendition capped with an ethereal howl that would have made Petty proud.

Next up was Mya Smith, a new sophomore who transferred to Frederick from Horizon. As the first chords of her song played, she suddenly found herself living through every musician’s nightmare: becoming so nervous that she forgot the words to her song. She told us that backstage before the show, “I was kinda panicking because the other girls were so good.” These nerves got the best of Mya for a moment, but then she left the stage, took a breath, and with lyrics in hand, delivered a beautiful performance to great applause.

Up next, junior Sarah Neville performed the only dance of the evening to the song “Soldier’s Memoir.” “I’ve dedicated this to my dad,” she told us. “The song is about a guy who came back from the war with PTSD, and that happened to my dad.” Dressed in tight leggings and army fatigues, Sarah filled the stage in a blizzard of movement that had the audience roaring with cheers.  Judge Chelsea Stuvel said of the performance that Sarah “was awesome. At every moment your face matched the music, which really helped pull at our heartstrings.”

Sophomore Jannessa Kinsey took the stage next. Singing “No One Else” from the musical Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812, Janessa enthralled the audience with a powerful performance. Janessa chose this song because “I love it a lot, especially the range—I think that it might be my winning edge.” True to her prediction, Janessa wowed the crowd with ethereal high notes, soulful growls, and a powerful belt all while smiling with utter serenity, as if the performance required no effort at all. After thunderous applause, judge Doug Jackson summed it up best: “I forgot to write anything down because I was so mesmerized. That performance was simply breathtaking.”

Finally, sophomore Kayla Lorimer closed out the round. Seated on a stool with a ukelele tucked securely under her right arm, she took a deep breath and started to strum the first notes of an original composition called “Growing Old with You.” “The song is about fantasizing about growing old with someone who’s now gone,” she said. “I wrote this after all three of my best friends moved away to other states in middle school and I didn’t know what to do—I thought we would all be old ladies together.” Her sorrow came through in her singing, which used a slow yet powerful build to an emotional climax that had the audience cheering. “You have such a gift,” judge Emily Ferguson told her. “The part at the end where your voice goes through the roof was astounding.”

After a brief intermission, the audience voted and narrowed their choice down to two performers: Janessa and Kayla. For her second song, Kayla chose “When She Was Mine” from the musical Waitress. Accompanied on piano by senior Dallin Lyon, she felt she had mastered the forlorn tone of Sara Bareilles… “until I forgot the words!” Janessa had a similar issue when she took the stage for her second round, where she performed “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and, despite her powerful voice echoing through the auditorium, also “totally spaced” on the lyrics to one of the verses.

Two final songs with many strengths but the same technical flaw—the two performers were evenly matched going into the final vote. Kayla was sure that Jannessa would win it all: “She’s so, so good. Her voice is really a full opera vice and she can sing any range.” Yet the past two Frederick’s Got Talent winners—seniors Tessa Lyons and Zach Briggs—were confident that Kayla would win it all. “She’s a crowd pleaser,” Tessa told us, “and a lot of people love her voice.” Zach agreed, saying that people are drawn to Kayla because “she’s got a voice that’s unique—and, come on, look at Grace Van Der Waal. People love a girl with a ukulele.”

In the end, the former victors were dead on and Kayla won the competition. All of her supporters and competitors were overjoyed—perhaps none more so than Janessa. “Kayla’s voice is so soft and the way it mixes with her playing is so beautiful—I can’t wait until she eventually comes out with her own Soundcloud channel.” As for Kayla, she “was really surprised” that she won: “I was really unsure if I would, but I’m so excited that I did.”