The Williamsport-Lycoming County Crime Commission recently held a gospel concert and talent search on May 2 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
Talent scout Terry Pickering, with New York City's GMG Music Group, who was in attendance, awarded three talented winners with a recording contract.
In addition to being entertained by local choirs and performers during the event, attendees had an opportunity to hear The Gospel Gents and Potters Will, both of North Carolina, perform.
According to Ken Williams, director of fundraising and entertainment, the first annual fundraiser designed to help the community, was a big success.
Tatiana Robinson, Carey Van Chisolm and Betsy Stewart all grabbed the attention of Pickering and took top honors at the event.
Williams, who has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years, provided the connections by securing the eyes and ears of GMG.
The music group is a national and internationally distributed label with locations in Dallas, Texas, and San Jose, Calif. Artists from the label include Baby Bash, Keith Martin and others.
According to crime commission officials, the premise for the event was to unify the community by bringing churches from the area together to demonstrate to area residents that if you work hard, good things will happen.
Proceeds from the event will be directed to help stabilize The Center on Campbell Street.
"It gives hope and directs people down the right path," said Executive Director Rev. Ronald S. James Sr.
James said when the organization was started, the goal was not to watch crime, but to find solutions to it. He said the area has a lot of talented people and they wanted to provide hope to those who deserve a chance.
Singing since she was 4 years old, Stewart said she got her start in the church choir. As an adult, she sings each week at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
"It was an amazing opportunity for me," she said. "I am so thankful."
Stewart said she is going to place her trust in God and take her talents as far as he will allow her to.
Also awarded a contract was Chisolm, whose stage name is Vann-ChiSo. Chisolm, who is serving in the United States Navy and stationed in Nevada, was flown to Williamsport in order to compete in the competition.
His mother, Diane DeVaughn, said she is extremely proud of her son. He is in the process of making arrangements to fly home for 20 days and start the recording process.
"He is in constant contact with us," she said. "He is so excited."
Last, but certainly not least, is 17-year-old Robinson. Robinson, who resides in Philadelphia, is a model, singer and actress, who also secured a contract with the label.
According to Williams, the event would not have been possible without the support of several businesses and organizations in the community, including the Community Arts Center.
"We want other churches to come out and join our cause," Williams said. "All churches and denominations are welcome."
In addition to solo artists, the organization is seeking more choirs, churches and groups to join in the competitions.
Several other talent searches are scheduled to be held at The Center, 600 Campbell St., in which participants may compete against other singers, dancers, musicians and comedians for the chance to win $50 and to advance to the big finale scheduled for Dec. 10. Once there, participants will have an opportunity to win a $500 first- place cash prize.
For more information about the Williamsport-Lycoming County Crime Commission, contact James at 326-9088.
For information regarding Showtime events at The Center, contact Rodney Anderson at 974-1778 or The Center at 322-5515.