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Event Wed Aug 29 2012
For Chicago native and NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, all kids deserve a "shot" -- a chance to show their artistry -- and through the Wade's World Foundation's D. Wade's Chicago Has Talent, his annual youth showcase, they showed it in a huge way. "This is our fifth year with Chicago Has Talent and every year the talent gets better and better," said Wade.
Front: Dwyane Wade; back row, l to r: David Silbaugh (judge), Lil Rel (host), Tika Sumpter (host) & Billy Dec (judge).
For hundreds of kids, the showcase, held last weekend at the Chicago Theater as part of "Wade's World Weekend," was a welcome escape from the day-to-day ills that lately have plagued the city's youth. "Chicago Has Talent is a no-brainer for us to do; it's our way of answering the violence," said Tragil Wade, the foundation's executive director. "What we decided to do is to create a platform for all our creative babies out there."
Hosted by funnyman Lil Rel and actress Tika Sumpter (Sparkle), with judges that included Grammy award-winning singer/actress Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child and entertainment personality Billy Dec, the event put the spotlight on 17 contestants with talent in the world of music, theater and dance.
From rap to rock and from The Beatles to Beyonce, the show's diverse line-up featured youth solo and group acts who performed songs that included classics by Etta James, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Aretha Franklin and more. Among the acts were 15-year-old opera singer Fadeke Oparinde, rock/pop band, Live Wire, performance artists The Last Two and popular Chicago tap dance troupe, M.A.D.D. Rhythms. Other highlights included musical performances by Disney star Coco Jones and teen R&B/pop sensation, Jacob Latimore.
Of the evening's talented performers, first prize went to 11-year-old singer and musician Mae Ya Ryan who gave a soulfully stirring rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" that brought everybody -- including Dwyane Wade -- to their feet. Rounding out the other top spots was third place winner Kristen Lowe, who performed a medley of Beyonce hits and in second place, guitarist Jake Julian.
The spirit of the evening and the level of talent especially resonated with Williams, who was moved by the performances. "I believe in our children and I'm so inspired by what they came with tonight," she said. "To me, they all could have been winners."
Photos by Jeff Schear.