The 18-member a capella ensemble Rhythm ‘N Harmony out of Marianas High School won all major awards of last Friday’s 2014 CNMI Got Talent at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan Magellan.
The MHS Glee Club, led by artistic and music director Paul Dujua, took home the grand prize and best group awards as well as the coveted Governor’s Choice award after wowing the crowd with its mash-up of Christmas songs Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Do They Know it’s Christmas Time, We Three Kings, One Small Child, Let it Go, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with a sampling of Turn Down for What for good measure.
“Words could not explain exactly how happy I am for winning all three awards. I was definitely mind blown so to speak. It was totally unexpected. And is indeed a great honor. I always tell my glee to perform at their best no matter what the circumstance is. And that it’s not all about the winning. It’s about bringing the best we can,” said Dujua after the show.
The competition was again organized this year by international investment banking and asset management company Bridge Capital, LLC.
Rhythm ‘N Harmony is made up of Noel Jimenez, Anne Cruz, Diane Hermogenes, Emily Jones, Joselle Reyes, Jennella Nelmida, Annabel Manzo, Shaina Santiago, Paula Gozon, Grace Catalma, Shandel Cayabyab, Leonard Manuel, John Huevos, Jameson Kui Lee, Neil Fama, Miguel Aninon, and Roland Balajadia, John Cano with alumni Vivien Viernes and Rolando Sangalang.
Jimenez and Cruz are the glee club’s president and vice president, respectively.
In all, the group pocketed $3,5000 in winnings: $1,500 for the grand prize, $1,000 for the best group, and another $1,000 for the Governor’s Choice award. Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ daughter, Tina Inos, bestowed the latter award.
Dujua said this is the first time Rhythm ‘N Harmony actually won the grand prize alone. Three years ago they did top CNMI Got Talent, albeit tied with another performer.
“In 2011 we won the a grand prize tied with violinist Allan Tudela. In 2012 we were first place runner up, and in 2013 the judges made us break a tie with Bernice and we finished with the first mini grand prize and was also awarded best group award,” he said.
The Bernice he was referring to is 8-year-old singing sensation Bernice Sabino, the 2013 CNMI Got Talent grand prize winner who, along with Tudela, guest-performed during Friday’s talent competition, which was hosted by funnyman Jojo Camacho.
Dujua said the $3,500 they won will be used for their expenses, as they once again will be competing in the 2015 Tumon Bay Music Festival next year.
Finishing with the mini grand prize and $1,200 is Out of the Ordinary made up mostly of Umang Glee Club members from Koblerville Elementary School, while violinist Kevin Liang of Saipan Community School bagged the 2nd mini grand prize and went home $1,000 richer.
The MHS Dolphin PEP Band, (1st runner-up, $500), D.J. Santiago (2nd runner-up, $400), Glushko Ballerinas (3rd runner-up, $300), Angela Barbo (4th runner-up, $200), and Nikkie Ayuyu (5th runner-up, $100; and best from Tinian, $500) close out the winners of the 2014 CNMI Got Talent.
Serving as judges for the evening were Marianas Variety publisher Laila Boyer, congressman-elect Angel Demapan, Senate President and lieutenant governor-elect Ralph DLG. Torres (R-Saipan), Associate Justice Perry Inos, and Evert van der Maas, the son of Marianas Business Plaza owner Eric van der Maas.