IONIA – Sally Harris and her daughter, Sarah Brown, have seen firsthand the amount of musical talent in County Ionia as music teachers.
Now Harris and Brown — owners of Heartbeat Music of Ionia — are running a contest to showcase that talent to the public.
“We seek to bring joy back into music,” Brown said. “It’s our top priority.”
Ionia County’s Got Talent takes place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 17 as part of the Ionia Expo Block Party downtown.
“We know there’s a lot of talent out there and when you have talent like that, you don’t want to put it on the shelf and dust it off and do nothing with it,” Brown said. “You have to use it.”
There are three age groups: 8-12, 13-17 and 18+. Each contestant will perform a solo song – vocal or instrumental, or both – lasting up to three minutes. Contestants will be judged on talent, stage presence, vocal range and overall impression.
Each contestant must submit a DVD or electronic video recording performing their shortlisted song to Heartbeat Music – 341 W. Main St. They can also be emailed to [email protected]. If contestants are selected to perform at the Ionia Expo Block Party, the performance must be the same as the registration – no substitutions. Performances must be intended for a PG audience.
A completed application form and a $20 non-refundable fee are also required. The application form is available at facebook.com/HeartbeatMusicofIonia. Applications are due Thursday, September 1.
Harris and Brown opened Heartbeat Music in 2020. They offer lessons in 55 different instruments, as well as vocals, to hundreds of area students.
“We wanted to give them a place where they can express themselves,” Harris said.
Harris and Brown thought of different ways for local musicians to perform live in front of others. The students performed in recitals, First Brick Thursdays in downtown Ionia and at the Ionia Free Fair. Ionia County’s Got Talent will be another avenue.
Although they’ve never held their own music competition before, Harris and Brown have entered one before.
“I thought it was fun to do,” Harris said. “You have to see different people and what they’ve done with their music. You have to show your own music.
Music store owners believe that performing in front of an audience can boost artists’ confidence. Brown said she had a student who cried before performing in front of 200 people at a recital. After giving a hug, Brown played with the young student, who smiled after receiving a standing ovation.
“There are so many different adventures in music,” Brown said. “You just need to have enough courage to venture out.”
Heartbeat Music is seeking sponsors for County Ionia’s Got Talent. Anyone interested can call the store at 616-841-6035.
“I think once the word gets out, it will grow,” Harris said.