By Nadira Mohammed
As the resounding cheers of students echoed and the enchanting melodies of musical and theatrical performances filled the air, USC wrapped up its semester with the grand culmination of Season 2 of USC Got Talent.
USC Got Talent stands as a beacon for nurturing and showcasing the finest talents from USC, extending its reach to embrace Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, and beyond. This event was established and developed by the Spiritual Development Department and the School of Education and Humanities of the University of the Southern Caribbean.
The event spanned from November 8th to November 26th, kicking off with auditions on November 4th. It comprised five training sessions, one pre-recorded event, and two live showcases.
There were three plenary sessions that catered towards holistic development and professional networking of the contestants. The competition unfolded across three riveting rounds: Blind Auditions, Semi-Finals, and the climactic Final Round. Starting with a maximum of twenty contestants, each round saw a gradual elimination process, culminating in the top 3 contestants claiming their rightful places in the Final Round.
The Dean of the School of Education and Humanities, Dr. Loverne Browne, and Pastor Terry John are the two main stakeholders of this event. While the idea for a talent show was birthed in a Student Executive Committee meeting at the School of Education and Humanities in September, 2022, the students embraced the vision and have far exceeded all expectations.
The UGT is an initiative aimed at facilitating development and training of students on several levels. In the first instance it is geared at providing the platform by which students can lead out in the planning and execution of the event. The goal was to ensure that students found ways to harness their skills in productions such as these and create new skill sets that may not have been their prior.This is of critical importance for the students in the School of Education and Humanities in particular as well as other interested students in USC. One of the major selling points of UGT is that students are given the opportunity to lead while we as administrators provide administrative support. For all involved, they receive training in their various talent areas on stage and off and in so doing they obtain a take away that will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
With Mr. Anton Charles being the Executive Producer, Director, Creative Director, and overall Host of USC Got Talent, he stated, “USC is a lighthouse for talent, talent emanates from every fiber of this school, and the Got Talent series is so important to the development of those talents because there are so many persons who are gifted in so many areas but do not know how to advance themselves in said areas, and so USC Got Talent aims at being that platform that allows students to grow the appreciation for developing their talent instead of just viewing it as a hobby.”
Four discerning judges, each representing distinct talent realms, presided over the elimination process. Post the semi-finals, contestants received personalized mentorship from their judges, honing their skills for the Final Round—a two-stage showdown culminating in the crowning of the USC Got Talent monarch. The People’s Choice Award honored the finalist with the highest online votes of the season.
Following each season, USC Got Talent plans to host professional Master classes guided by seasoned experts, aimed at students keen on refining their skills. Additionally, an event akin to the original USC Got Talent is set to spotlight the talents of registered students to a broader audience.
The panel of judges comprised experts in their respective categories:
- Cleon Richardson, the voice category judge, renowned for his multifaceted expertise in music production and education.
- Anthony Woodruff, known as Tony Paul, led the instrumental category, celebrated for his prowess in jazz education and performance.
- Lesley Lewis-Alleyne, a distinguished figure in both scientific and artistic realms, presided over Dance & Choreography.
- Ronaldo Mohammed, an advocate and artist in Spoken Word/Poetry/Theatre/Drama, brought his expertise to the judging panel.
The pinnacle of Season 2 saw Ms. Ivana Wong, Ms. Alphiesha Guischard, and Mr. Jesse Schultz emerge as the top three winners.
Jesse Schultz claimed 3rd place in the music (instrumental) category, showcasing his prowess as a third-year Music major at USC.
Alphiesha Guischard, a Hospitality and Tourism major at USC, earned 2nd place in the Spoken Word/Poetry/Theatre category, captivating audiences with her phenomenal performances.
Securing 1st place was Ivana Wong, a Nursing major at USC, distinguished for her soulful voice and devout focus on faith-based music. Her winning piece, a powerful narrative woven through music, resonated deeply with the audience.
Ivana’s winning performance, starting as a poignant portrayal of a slave bound by chains, evolved into a powerful message of liberation and empowerment, urging everyone to “Let Go and Let God.”
Reflecting on their experiences, Alphiesha expressed it as “overwhelming, heart wrenching, and awesome,” while Jesse described it as a pivotal developmental moment in his life. For Ivana, it was nothing short of a blessing.
For those eager to witness these remarkable performances, USC Got Talent offers access to the winning showcase, events, and episodes on their YouTube channel (youtube.com/@uscgottalent) and Instagram (instagram.com/uscgottalent). Season 3 is slated for November 2024, with registrations opening officially in April 2024. USCians can actively engage by signing up for roles within the production team, management team, or editing bay.