It’s showtime!

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday evening more than 25 area performers hit the Demopolis High School stage for a final rehearsal, because tonight is showtime for those performing in this year’s Summer Talent Variety Show.

“They’ve put in a lot of hard work,” 21st Century guitar and keyboard teacher Carrie Thomas said.

“And we do have a variety,” music director Arleatha Perry added. “They are going to do everything. Singing, dancing, stepping – they’ll do it all.”

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To make sure that no child walks away empty handed, Perry spent the past few weeks soliciting donations from area business.

“That way every child that participates will have something,” Perry smiled, “and no one will leave without some kind of prize.”

Usually “Eliza Burning” members Joshua Julian, John Haisty, Justin Midgorden, Preston Ruddell and Jonathan Strickland would be accompanied by Evan Spence. However, tomorrow they will play without their bandmate and friend as he continues to recuperate from a recent liver transplant in Pennsylvania.

“We wanted to do it for Jesus even though Evan’s not here,” Julian said. “We are just a praise band that does things a little differently.”

For more information on Eliza Burning, visit

Also performing in tonight’s show are Shannon Pittman and Valissa Sams, who will both sing solos.

“I feel that I have talent and I want everyone else to know it too,” said Pittman who will enter the sixth grade at Demopolis Middle School this fall.

Although this will be her third time performing in a talent show, Pittman said she could feel the butterflies in her stomach.

“I am kind of nervous, but not really,” she smiled. “I’ve been on stage a lot before.”

Also a veteran to the stage is Sams, who said many people know that she has talent, but wanted to prove it and carry a message with her song selection.

“Sometimes when people hear me sing,” the 10th grader said, “it changes the way they feel about certain things.”

Even though community education coordinator for Demopolis City Schools, Barbara Hill, said Perry and Thomas are responsible for many music opportunities in the school system, the duo refuses to take all the credit.

“We are very lucky to have such an incredible jazz pianist to accompany us,” Thomas said about pianist Toney Nixon.

“The children are wonderful as well,” Perry said.

Tickets for the event are $3 a person and proceeds will be donated to the Evan Spence bank account to benefit the Demopolis family.

“It’s for a great cause and the students have put in a lot of work,” Thomas said.

“It’s a great way to spend time with the family because there will be entertainment for the entire family,” Perry said. “We are so excited about [tonight]. We are expecting a packed house.”