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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane’s Got Talent to feature local talent and not-so-local Phillip Phillips

Phillip Phillips performs onstage during ONEHOPE’s Harvest Party Benefiting Charity: Water at ONEHOPE Winery on Sept. 25, 2021, in Napa, Calif. Phillips will play as part of Spokane’s Got Talent at the U.S. Pavilion on Thursday.  (Kelly Sullivan)

Spokane’s Got Talent is ready to take the Riverfront Park Pavilion stage and show Spokane the best it has to offer.

With 26 acts, four locally famous judges, a celebrity guest performer and free audience entry, Spokane’s Got Talent is shaping up to be a hit event as part of Expo ’74’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“We have lots of great talent and I think we have a really good variety,” said Rita Di Mauro, the arts and culture chair of Expo 50. “We have some comedy. We have singer-songwriters, bands. We have juggling … We have a ballet. We have dancers.

“It’s just like a hodgepodge variety.”

These contestants successfully auditioned and made it through the first stage of tryouts, which occurred in late May.

One of the 26 contestants is Christopher Lee Anderson, an 11-year-old that can play multiple instruments, including violin and piano.

Kalla Mort, a singer whose “voice is like caramel,” according to Spokane Civic Theatre Executive Director Jake Schaefer, will also be a contestant.

Olga Loktev, of Company Ballet School and Vytal Movement Dance, will be performing at the show, as will the band OutWest.

Along with this “hodgepodge” of talents, Spokane’s Got Talent will have an acoustic performance by celebrity singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips.

Phillips won the 11th season of “American Idol” in 2012. His coronation song, “Home,” became the best-selling song in “American Idol” history.

A beer garden run by Red Rock Catering and food vendors contracted by Riverfront Park will be nearby.

“It’ll be a really wonderful night to celebrate local talent,” Di Mauro said. “It’ll be a nice, feel-good night that brings the community together.”

To keep the Expo ’74 theme front and center, each act is required to include a ’70s or Expo-related theme.

This is “the flare … it’s got to have that edge to be period from ’74 … There has to be that representation in the performance,” Schaefer said.

It could be “through their music, it could be through design or clothing,” Di Mauro said.

The acts could even use a phrase, accent or theme that is representative of the time or event.

“The individual artists will come up with that … it’s just something that we wanted them to think about and provide their own elements of creativity to,” Di Mauro said.

The judges of Spokane’s Got Talent will decide if the acts have successfully met the ’70s and Expo theme criteria and it will directly affect their decisions for the winners.

Molly Allen, an on-air host for 92.9 KZZU-FM, and Kiantha Duncan, former Spokane NAACP president, will be judges for the event.

Rare Earth original singer and drummer, Peter Rivera, will also judge, along with Fruitland, Washington, native Donnie Emerson from the musical brother’s duo Donnie and Joe Emerson.

Shine FM’s Lorenda Rae will host the show.

Judging could be difficult, with so many different talents performing.

“I love all of them … Everyone we’ve chosen is wonderful,” Di Mauro said.

Each act will have three to five minutes to prove to the judges that they deserve to win. The winners will earn cash prizes and the opportunity to perform at local venues.

First place cash prize is $2,500, second place is $1,000 and third place is $500.

Although Spokane’s Got Talent is inherently a competition, “Expo is a unifying event,” Di Mauro said. “It was meant to unify and bridge divides, and I think this is one event that can do that as well.”

The purpose of Expo ’74 was to celebrate the diversity and talents of the world; the purpose of Spokane’s Got Talent is to celebrate the diversity and talents of Spokane.