Wellington, FL – Jan. 12, 2017– Robert Dover, chef d'equipe of the Rio Olympic Games bronze-winning U.S. Dressage team switched to his fundraising hat and launched the third year of American Equestrians Got Talent (AEGT). The season-long event series benefits the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s High Performance Programs. AEGT Week I, sponsored by Diamante Farms, opened to a packed house.
Grammy Award–winner Steven Battey from Jackie Boyz had the house grooving with his upbeat performance, then shared a music video made for an organization he founded, Singing for Superheroes.
Battey has written and collaborated with pop music icons, including Madonna, Justin Bieber, Cee-Lo, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Hudson and others. He currently has a song on the radio with soul artist Charlie Wilson, a founding member of The Gap Band. Battey served as a judge, alongside Olympic dressage rider and coach Debbie McDonald and AEGT Honorary Chair P.J. Rizvi.
The 2016 AEGT Finale winner, David Oliver Willis performed his song, “The River” to rousing applause. Willis’ wife Olivia joined him for the evening and at the last minute, he and Dover talked her into performing as a contestant.
“I thought I might perform another time, but not this week because I wasn’t prepared,” Olivia Willis said. “I don’t perform a whole lot. I practiced a couple of songs in the bathroom.”
The couple hails from Mount Dora, Florida, where they owned a coffee shop. Olivia Willis, who performs her own style of intense and soulful folk, ran their business when her husband was a top 40 contestant on American Idol. The couple have been married for five years.
After the first round of seven performances, the applause meter ranking results put the 11-year-old and three-year AEGT veteran, Zachary Duckworth, Olivia Willis and Brit Lee Moore in the top three spots. Each were asked to perform another song.
Moore is a young hunter/jumper trainer and owner of Xanadu Equestrians. She, also, performed reluctantly and confirmed her spot on the stage at the last minute. In her first round, she belted out Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”. She followed up with Cam’s “Burning House” in an emotional tribute to a special horse that passed away.
In Willis’s first round she sang a haunting rendition of the White Stripes “In the Cold, Cold Night”. She performed an original song during her second round.
At the end of the night, the audience response produced a tie for Moore, representing the sport of show jumping and Willis, representing the sport of dressage.
Dover turned the final decision over to the judges and Battey named Willis the winner.
“If she shows up, it’s hers,” said David Oliver Willis about his wife’s chances in the Finale. “I am so excited she won. She came to have dinner and watch me perform. She had no intention of singing at all. Robert and I had to bend both arms to get her to perform.”
Dover was pleased with the evening events. “Everything about tonight was a step above what we’ve done in the past,” he said. “Going into the first night I was nervous, but everyone did a beautiful job. The food was great. The ambience was great. The crowd was fabulous and my contestants and the stars that started out the night were superb.”
Dover thanked Kim Boyer and Discover Dressage, her new foundation that stepped up to help manage the event and make the donation to the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Boyer chairs of the USEF Dressage Owners Task Force.
“This is a perfect first event for Discover Dressage,” Boyer said. “It was super. The enthusiasm is still very strong. We’re attracting better and better talent. The venue has really changed things. So many people I talked with said they were so much more comfortable in the new venue. There was lots of food and a great bar. The first night was a big hit.”
Battey agreed. “Everyone was really good,” he said about the contestants. “I was really impressed. The stage presence, the vocals the dancing – it was a really great experience.”
The next AEGT audition is set for Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Wellington Community Center. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.
Contact Patty Scott for tickets at: (917) 318-0425 or email@example.com
6 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Show Begins
Wednesday, Jan. 18; Tuesday, Jan. 24;
Wednesday, Feb. 1; Wednesday, Feb. 8; Wednesday, Feb. 15;
Wednesday, Feb.22; Wednesday, March 1; and Wednesday, March 8
The Grande Ballroom at
The new Wellington Community Center
12150 Forest Hill Boulevard
Wellington, Florida 33414
Click here for map
$1,000 will be awarded to the winning performer at each audition.
Robert Dover at: Rdover2@aol.com or(561) 758-6186
Individual One-Time Ticket: includes gourmet dinner $60
Individual Package: includes gourmet dinner at all nine auditions $450
Individual Standing Room One-Time Ticket: $10
Table of 10 One-Time: includes gourmet dinner $600
Tables of 10 for all nine auditions: includes gourmet dinner $4,500
Ticket purchase for beverages, wine, beer and spirits
Purchase and Reserve Tickets and Tables:
Contact Patty Scott at (917) 318-0425 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellington Hospitality Group (formerly Aaron's Catering of the Palm Beaches) Each audition week will be a themed event.
Auditions are open to the entire community, including competitors, owners, riders, grooms and others involved in any discipline and citizens of The Village of Wellington associated with the equestrian community. Please sign up in advance.
Robert Dover at: Rdover2@aol.com or(561) 758-6186 to set up rehearsal times the day and evening of the auditions. Walk-in performers may be accepted as time permits.
Week I - Olivia Willis, representing the sport of dressage.
When: March 19, 2017
Where: Adequan® Global Dressage Festival show grounds, Wellington, Florida
Caterer: White Horse Catering is the official caterer of the Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.
Prize: The winner, who will be named America's Most Talented Equestrian, will receive a grand prize of $10,000 sponsored by Robert Dover, chef d'equipe of the U.S. Dressage Team, and Robert Ross, P.A., luxury equestrian realtor for Keller Williams.
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