After performing for 15 years, the Dogwood Jamboree has a formula for staying fresh: growing and nurturing budding talent through the annual talent search contest, open only to youth 18 and younger.
Saturday’s contest at Palestine High School auditorium will feature performers as young as 11. The contest will launch the careers of some youth who aspire to become country music stars.
Some contestants have continued to perform in bigger venues, such as America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and various local and national television shows.
With Nashville recording contracts, Kadie Lynn Roberson of Kemp might be the most famous among Dogwood Alumni.
Kristyn Harris, a yodeler from McKinney, has gone on to perform on American Idol, several TV shows, documentaries, and films. Harris was named 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year in the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association and 2019 Entertainer of the Year by the Western Music Association.
The “Dogwood Jamboree Talent Search: Artist of the Year 2019” will feature four contestants, all of whom performed at previous Jamboree shows in March, June, and October. Heather Moore, 17, and Ellie Homann, 15, of Palestine; The Shiloh Family of the Austin area; and Mary Clare of Sherman will compete for Artist of the Year.
Adeline, Chloe, and Jonah Pennington – ages 13, 15, and 17 – make up The Shiloh Family.
Clare was only 11 when she performed at the October concert, but her bold voice belies her youth. The audience voted her as the winner of the October show after she belted out “Don’t Worry About Me,” by Marty Robbins, first recorded in 1961.
“We were all blown away by her voice,” Manuel said.
The talent search is open to anyone 18 or younger. Roughly 20 or more youth audition each year, but only three are chosen to perform on stage at each of the quarterly shows, and four advance to the annual contest in December.
Manuel said the show allows young people to perform locally, while helping them advance their music careers. “We feel like we’ve really been blessed to help these kids,” he said.
Saturday’s jamboree will also feature the Hot Shots, a trio of boys from the Houston area. The young musicians, ages 10, 11, and 14, will perform country classics on banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, and ukulele.
The Hot Shots will perform country tunes, such as “12th Street Rag,” an old Dixieland song, a 50s musical medley, classical music by Beethoven on ukulele, as well as the group's original, “Eat That Biscuit.”
The Hot Shots are Ben, 11, Eli Davis, 10, and Ben and Aaron Burleson, 14. Ben and Aaron Burleson are brothers from a family of 11 children. The trio has performed all over the United States and will appear on NBC’s "Little Big Shots," in January.
“They’re cute as can be and unbelievably talented,” said Buddy Griffin, the group’s manager, teacher, and director.
Griffin said The Hot Shots are part of the All Stars Youth Banjo Band of Houston, a group of 81 young people who recently played the National Anthem at Houston Astros and Rockets games.
The Palestine High School choir will also perform Christmas music at Saturday’s show.
There is no entry fee for auditioning. For information on auditioning for the Jamboree, contact Manuel at 903-724-2556 or 903-723-6291. Tickets to Saturday’s show are available at Hometown Pharmacy, Pronto's Pizza, and Mail and More, or by calling 903-729-7080 or 903-724-2556.