A 7-year-old singing prodigy is this year’s grand prize winner of the 3rd Annual CNMI Got Talent Search, held Saturday night at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan’s Magellan Restaurant.
Bernice Shane Sabino’s soaring rendition of O Holy Night bested 11 other performances in the talent competition held annually by Bridge Capital LLC.
Sabino first bagged $1,000 for winning the Governor’s Choice Award before duking it out with Marianas High School’s Rhythm N’ Harmony in the finals after judges named them the Top 2 of the talent competition.
Rhythm N’ Harmony, which already won the Best Group award and pocketed $1,000, changed their routine for the final round, singing a different Christmas medley. The second grade student of Green Meadow School stuck to her guns and sang the Christmas classic again in the championship round to get the judges’ final nod.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos was an obvious fan as he bestowed the Governor’s Choice Award on Sabino. He said Sabino can give contestants of “American Idol” a run for their money if she decides to enter the top-rated competition.
In a telephone interview last night with the Saipan Tribune, Sabino said she didn’t expect to win at all because she went up against very talented performers. While admitting she was a tad nervous, Sabino said she just tried her best and stay confident. She chose O Holy Night because she said it has plenty of high notes that suit her very impressive vocal range.
For winning the grand prize of the 2013 CNMI Got Talent Search, Sabino earned an extra $1,500—bringing her total earnings for the evening to $2,500.
Sabino’s mother, Sheryll, said her daughter’s win was a godsend because her husband, Bernard, was recently laid off from work. She said they were about to pull out their 4-year-old son from private school, but her daughter’s win would allow them to keep Biboy enrolled at Green Meadow for the time being.
Sheryll thanked Bridge Capital for sponsoring the talent competition as well as Green Meadow School, Keynotes, and Saipan Music and Dance and its owner Esther Sablan for always supporting Bernice, who first started to sing at age 2.
Sabino’s win in the talent search is her second win in a competition this year, as she also ran away with the 2013 Little Miss Philippines title earlier this year.
Rhythm N’ Harmony won $1,200 for winning the first mini grand prize. Other winners were pianist Cloency Zuriel Chua, second mini grand prize $1,000; Noel Jimenez and Nikki Canape, first runner-up and $500; Glushko Academy, second runner-up and $400; ukulele player Kui Lee, third runner-up and $300; Rota’s F-Babies dance group, fourth runner-up and $200; and Isa, fifth runner-up and $100.
Aside from its fourth runner-up win, F-Babies also won $500 for being the default best group from Rota.
Serving as judges of the 3rd Annual CNMI Got Talent Search were Saipan Mayor Donald Flores, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio, Commonwealth of the Dominica’s Duncan Stowe, Supreme Court Associate Justice Perry Inos, and businesswomen Nenita Ta.
Bridge Capital owners John Baldwin and Sean Scott were also present during the 2013 CNMI Got Talent Search, which also doubled as the company’s Christmas Party. Baldwin and Scott congratulated all the winners and thanked everyone in attendance for gracing their party.