B. Smith, owner of B. Smith's Restaurants, center standing, poses with contestants for " B. Discovered" Talent Search Competition for DC`s Next Great Singers, Tues., March 8, at Union Station, in Northeast. / Photo by Roy Lewis
Five rising stars sang their hearts out, hoping to win the ‘B. Discovered’ Next Generation Singer competition sponsored by B. Smith’s restaurant in Union Station on Mon., March 21. The event was the next step closer for all 21 finalists who made it past the preliminary competitions in February, and will move on to compete weekly for D.C.’s top singer title in April.
B. Smith, the noted style maven and former model, owns three restaurants in the District, New York City and Sag Harbor, N.Y. At a recent press conference in the District, Smith told the finalists that the District has some of the greatest singers in the world, and that the group of finalists repre-sents the city’s great talent.
Last modified on Monday, 28 March 2011 15:39
“I love D.C. more and more, and that’s why I’m here more often,” Smith said.
“I’m proud of the staff [of B. Smith’s] we have here; they pulled this together. This competition is very exciting and I hope we can take it up many levels.”
As guests dined on B. Smith’s signature Cajun, Southern and home-style cuisine in the Presidential Suite dining room, the most historic space in Union Station that houses B. Smith’s restaurant, the opulent facility became a stage for the performers who offered a taste of their best talent to songstress Carolyn Malachi, jazz musician Giovanni Russonello and voice coach Ellisha “Teapot” McKinney who are serving as judges for the com-petition.
One by one, WKYS radio personality Jeannie Jones introduced each contestant and shared a story about their road to success. Prince Manso, 27, has been singing since he was five years old. James T. “J. Skillz” Adams, III, 27, selected a John Legend song to showcase his R&B, hip-hop, funk and neo-soul repertoire. “Diva” Rose Bullock, 63, who serenaded her way to the title of Queen of the American Classic Pageant, has been performing in area night clubs for years. Lamar Parker, 31, resurrected a popular Rap song by Tupac Shakur, and Amyunique Garner, 32, performed a jazz ballad.
“This is going to be one of the best things to happen in D.C. for a while,” said Nathan Jolley, the producer of the event and Artist-in-Residence at the Strathmore in Bethesda, Md.
Jolley, a drummer, and his twin brother, Noble Jolley, Jr., a pianist, are members of the renowned Jolley family and noted musicians in their own right. Among the members of their talented family are their father, the late jazz musician Noble Jolley; their sister, R&B singer Rashida Jolley, and their uncle, inspirational speaker Willie Jolley.
Andres Haynes, the general manager of B. Smith’s in Union State, described the talent as “amazing” and said the winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize, the opportunity to perform at B. Smith’s in Union Station and at area night clubs, a free trip to New York City to perform at B. Smith’s on Restaurant Row and a studio recording session with the Jolley Production Company.
Following a “little ditty” by B. Smith, the winner, Amyunique Garner, was announced.
“I am so thankful and very happy and appreciative” Garner said, as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Within minutes, she was on her cell phone sharing the news with her “guy” and eight-month- old baby.
Garner, who said she has been singing since she was three, works part-time at Victoria Secret but stopped singing around the D.C. area over a year ago to care for her child. She won the preliminary competition with a gospel song.
The former flight attendant said her career as a singer has not been as successful as she wants, but she is proud to “be discovered.”
“I love the fact that B. Smith has offered this opportunity,” Garner said. “I’m still in the competition and I’m so grateful.”