Marking 10 years, still plenty of talent to see at annual Modesto competition

It will be 10 years since the Gallo Center for the Arts has started showcasing local talent — and given them cash prizes and even some career boosts in the process.

The Valley Talent Project returns to the Modesto venue on Saturday, Aug. 24, with 23 acts performing in a variety of genres, according to Sarah Guadalupe Hosner, the show’s production coordinator. She said even after 10 years, there’s plenty more talent in the region to showcase.

“I think that after 10 short years that we have barely scraped the surface of talented performers in the region,” Hosner said in an email. “I say that each year because on the heels of this batch of talent will be the rising up of the next, it never fails. Maybe we’ll catch the ones next year that couldn’t fit us into their schedule this year or were away at an intensive in their discipline, or the ones that haven’t heard of us yet. It all comes down to the fact that our region values arts education and knows its benefits.”

This year’s show will be a little different in that there’s only one night of performances. In years past the show has been a two-night affair.

And one highlight of the program will be the return of Lindsay Pearce, the first winner of the event — previously titled Valley’s Got Talent — who will perform. Pearce went on to compete on “The Glee Project,” which at the time was a TV competition to win a spot on the then-phenom series “Glee.”

Longtime Valley Talent Project judge and Emmy Award-winning casting director Robert Ulrich — a Modesto native — tapped Pearce to compete on the show, which he also mentored. Ulrich also was casting director for “Glee.”

While she didn’t win “The Glee Project” she caught the eye of the producers and was featured on the first and last episode of “Glee” that year.

“And, she’s never stopped working since having acquired a long list of impressive credits in TV, live theater and recordings,” Hosner said. “I honestly think we just got lucky again, 10 years later because the only reason she is able to be here for the show this year is because she just completed a nine-month world tour and is taking time off’ to be with family and star in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in Murphys next month.”

But Pearce isn’t the only past participant who found herself competing on television.

Second year Valley Talent winner Francesca Bavaro — who has changed her name to Effie Passero — went on to appear in the 2017 reboot of “American Idol.” While she didn’t make the final cut for the show, “she has become a most sought out musician and singer in and out of LA studios, as well as composing music for television,” Hosner said. “Fresh onto the scene, she was a selected to be a background singer for a Barbara Streisand recording and wasn’t even in LA a year before she won a coveted Hollywood Music in Media Award.”

Ryan Hammond won the 2015 Modesto competition and also made it to “American Idol” earlier this year. “...like everyone else, we were all so disappointed when he was voted off. Ryan continues to be a popular public speaker sharing his success story of weight-loss through surgery and has recorded several Christian/Gospel songs,” she said.

Judging this year are recording artist Ann Loureiro Kline, Ryan Maharaj of Kim Coleman Casting, Katy Menges representing the E & J Gallo Winery, Chris Murphy of Modestoview, Ian Riley of KHOP, Reggie Rucker, director of placemaking at the Downtown Modesto Partnership, and Brian Clark, editor of The Modesto Bee.

There will be $11,500 awarded in cash prizes and scholarships, including the E. & J. Gallo Winery Grand Prize of $3,000. Other prizes $500 to $750 in cash or scholarships.

Valley Talent Project

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24

WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto

TICKETS: $10-$30

ONLINE: www.galloarts.org

Pat Clark covers entertainment and other stories for The Modesto Bee. She attended California State University, Stanislaus, and grew up in Modesto.
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