This Week at Hampton: Singing Stars



Vocalists compete at Hampton Beach talent show

It’s time again for Hampton Beach to find a singing star. The 14th Annual Hampton Beach Talent Competition will held Aug. 24, Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. on the Sea Shell Stage along Ocean Boulevard, where vocalists from all around the New England region and beyond will compete for first-, second- and third-place cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $300, respectively.

“As far as I know, we have the highest prize money of any of these competitions around, and we’re right on the beach. It’s a really beautiful, open, lovely venue at the Sea Shell Stage,” said Maureen Buckley, Hampton Beach Village District commissioner.

The competition begins Friday, Aug. 24, with 18 entertainers under the age of 18 performing in the Junior Competitors category semi-finals. Day 2 will consist of 24 senior competitors all vying for a spot in Sunday’s grand finale, where both senior and junior contestants will compete for their corresponding grand prizes. A panel of judges will select the winners based on three key factors: vocal ability, stage presence and entertainment value.

“We’ve had people who had good voices but the stage presence was extraordinary so sometimes they win second or third prize because they just captured the audience,” said Buckley.

Performers can be age 10 and older, and no type of music is off limits.

“We have all different genres — last year an opera singer won. It was an older gentleman and he was unbelievable. We have a mix of genres and we like everything. If you’re good then you’re good no matter what the genre is,” said Buckley

The event is free to attend and open to the public, and Buckley said they typically have a great audience turnout.

“It’s wonderful. I love to see the crowd that can’t even sit down because it’s so full,” said Buckley.

One thing that audiences will not see performing in the competition will be last year’s winner.

“As long as they don’t win they can come back and try again. We’re going to have a fantastic show this year because we have a lot of really good people in it. I picked up a couple of new young ladies this year who are unbelievable so that’s going to be good,” said Buckley, who noted that there will be performers returning for another shot at the grand prize this year.
The talent competition makes a point to limit artists to performing exclusively through vocals with background music playing from a recording and not through manual instrumentation to keep stage presence judging bias out of the picture, according to Buckley.
“It’s simple, it’s pure, there it is … can you sing or can’t you,” she said.

Buckley said she often gets feedback about who the judges should have picked for winners.

“It’s amazing — the people who are sitting up at the Purple Urchin right across the street and the other open areas around the boardwalk, when they’re sitting there listening too, they’ll tell me what I should have done every year. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

— Andrew Clay

*Featured photo of Hampton Beach Talent Competition 2017, provided by John Kane. 

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