Zach Duckworth. Photo by Annie Patterson
Wellington, Fla.– Jan. 19, 2017 – Zach Duckworth’s eclectic wish list of what he wants to be when he grows up is similar to many 11-year-old boys: brain surgeon, pro football player or performing artist, but he’s got a jump on his competition. The young musician won Week II of the nine preliminary rounds of American Equestrians Got Talent (AEGT) Wednesday night and went home with a $1,000 prize courtesy of Charlie Tota and The Dressage Connection as well as the right to come back for the season finale slated for March 19.
The ball cap-and shorts-clad sixth-grader at Wellington Landings wowed the crowd in the Grande Ballroom in Wellington with his singing and guitar playing skills. Nicknamed Zach “Attack” by emcee and fundraiser extraordinaire Robert Dover, Duckworth earned the right to perform in the final round after crooning Sublime’s “What I Got,” but it was his stylized version of Adele’s “Hello” that won over the packed crowd and the judges.
“An 11 is a whole new 11 these days,” Dover said of the young singer. Dover, chef d'equipe of the Rio Olympic Games bronze-winning U.S. Dressage team, is the organizer for AEGT, now in its third year as a season-long event series benefiting the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s High Performance Programs.
Young performers ruled the night when three under-18 contestants earned their way to the final round Wednesday, Duckworth, 17-year-old Brandon Olivarria, a poet who delivered riveting, thought-provoking monologues, and 14-year-old Kayden Mueller, a singer whose expressive and smoky voice belies her age. The crowd’s applause determined the winner and Duckworth emerged the victor.
He happily accepted his $1,000 prize from Tota, the evening’s sponsor. Also a musician, Tota and his band performed for the packed house during the intermission and before the competition began as the spectators enjoyed their Asian-themed dinner provided by Wellington Hospitality Group (formerly Aaron's Catering of the Palm Beaches). Dover has dubbed the band The Tota Comfort Band, named after the band leader’s innovative product, the Tota Comfort System.
Judge Kim Boyer, a sponsor of AEGT, said she was speechless after Duckworth’s “Eddie-Vedder-does-Adele” version of “Hello.” “I didn’t hear Adele, I heard you,” she said.
Fellow judge Ronnie Beard was impressed that the young singer took the music and made it his own. AEGT Honorary Chair and judge PJ Rizvi called it magic.
“I had a feeling that ‘Hello’ would be the song,” Duckworth said. He takes chorus in school but said his choir director/teacher doesn’t know how good he is. He has been singing competitively for three or four years and started playing guitar about a year ago. He took a hiatus after six months of lessons because of school commitments and then he started playing football. He admits he’s pretty good as a kicker for his team, WCFL.
Duckworth hopes to get his brother, who moved to Costa Rica for school and surfing, back to Wellington so they can write some original songs for the finale to be held March 19 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds. “I already have one, but I wasn’t ready,” he said.
The next AEGT audition is set for Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Grande Ballroom. The change to Tuesday night is to accommodate the USPRE Party, in which Dover is a rider, on Wednesday. Contact Robert Dover at Rdover2@aol.com or (561) 758-6186 about auditions for the Tuesday night event. Walk-in performers may be accepted as time permits.
Dinner for Week III 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.
AEGT FAST FACTS
6 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Show Begins
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
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.
Week II - Zach Duckworth, 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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