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Talent shines in North Georgia
Winners announced at second annual North Georgia’s Got Talent
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Blues guitarist and singer Hughes Taylor performs “Gotta Find My Way Home” at the second annual North Georgia’s Got Talent show Oct. 13. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Dawsonville was full of talent from across the state as artists of all ages came to the Performing Arts Center to perform at North Georgia’s Got Talent this past weekend.

No One Alone, a local domestic violence shelter serving Lumpkin and Dawson counties, hosted their second annual fundraising event after the huge success of the first talent show in 2017.

Over the summer months, auditions were held and contestants donated $25 each to audition. Over 40 auditions were submitted and the final 13 were chosen to perform at the show.

Talented individuals came from all over the state of Georgia to perform for the community, coming as far as Macon to perform for the good cause.

Hughes Taylor packed up his electric guitar and came to Dawson County from Macon to perform “Gotta Find My Way Home” in his unique blues/rock style that impressed the judges and secured him the first place trophy.

“Well there’s a lot to be blue about in Macon for those who have been there,” Hughes said to the crowd jokingly.

Hughes began playing guitar when he was 12 after being inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan. He traced the history of blues and fell in love with the style.

“You get all of these amazing musicians that really formed rock ‘n roll as we know it,” Hughes said.

The up-and-coming musician has released two albums, Hear My Melody (2016) and Restless (May 2018), with The Hughes Taylor Band, a blues/rock power trio that infuses traditional blues roots with upbeat and fast-paced blues and classic rock.

Coming in second place was 18-year-old Cash Laws who belted out “When You Say You Love Me,” originally performed by Josh Groban.

 Laws has been singing for over 10 years and performs at his church, theatrical performances, festivals, talent competitions and corporate and community events. The judges were impressed with his pitch perfect performance.

Third place went to a Dahlonega celebrity, Moses McKinzey, who performed his unique rendition of Johnny Cash’s classic hit “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Rather than going for a traditional cover, McKinzey said he wanted to make the song his own by adding a Southern rock twist. He has had his music featured in the Hallmark movie “Christmas in Homestead” as well as the 2017 science fiction film “Trailer Park Shark.”

During the show’s two intermissions, the audience placed their votes for the People’s Choice Award that went to a young country singer from Ball Ground. Elliott Prather, who is just 17 years old, began playing guitar and singing when he was 10. His performance of “She Used to Be Mine” reminded the judges of Nashville stars.

All of the winners will be invited to perform at Gold Rush in Dahlonega, at the Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville and at NOA’s annual Chili Cook-Off in Hancock Park on Veterans Day.

The proceeds from the show will go to support victims of domestic violence and abuse, the core function of NOA. Funds were raised through contestant audition and entry fees, ticket sales and sponsorships and will help pay for shelter facilities and crisis intervention and ongoing support programs, counseling and legal advocacy to families in crisis and community awareness programs.

As of Tuesday morning, NOA is still finalizing the numbers but said the event raised approximately $15,000.

As of the talent show, Oct. 13, 80 clients have been served in the shelter and 16 clients have been housed in local hotels just this year. Support services have been provided to approximately 1,000 men, women and children through NOA’s outreach program. The organization has responded to nearly 2,000 crisis calls in 2018 and has spent over $90,000 in client assistance.

All services provided by NOA are free and confidential.