Issac J. Bailey | Grand Strand ‘Idol’ to help honor King

Next month, Grand Strand residents who believe they belong on the big stage will get a chance to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., receive a career boost and earn a $1500 prize.

The inaugural Carolina Talent Search will be held as part of a beefed-up King Day “Freedom Rally” celebration weekend, which will include the annual Corporate & Community Awards Breakfast, a parade and working luncheons designed to help would-be entrepreneurs and small business owners to better navigate the local business environment.

“We want to get the best of the community and show them off,” said John Bonsignor, one of the organizers of the event, sponsored by the Carolina African American Heritage Foundation.

“Maybe we can find another ‘X-Factor’ or ‘American Idol’ star,” said Harry Coombs, an entertainment consultant who has worked in the business for half a century.

Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo, Reggie Dyson of WMIR in Little River and radio personality “Freakin’ Deacon” Dawson are among those slated to serve as judges.

There are no age limits for entrants and talent from all musical genres – rock, R&B, jazz, country, bluegrass, gospel, etc. – are welcome to compete. Soloists, groups, choirs, bands and trios are eligible.

The applications must be completed by Dec. 31 at midnight and can be found at caafh.com or by calling Bennie Swans, the group’s chairman, at (843) 251-2061. The competition will be held Jan. 19 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Recreation Center

A second-place winner will take home $1,000, and third place $500. Organizers also are hoping to partner with a local broadcast network and an area entertainment venue to give the winner more exposure.

The annual Myrtle Beach King Day celebration has grown in recent years. The 2012 event attracted top candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, including Tex. Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Tim Scott, a potential replacement for Jim DeMint in the U.S. Senate, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who won the state’s GOP primary.

Next month’s main event, the awards breakfast on Jan. 21, will include short speeches from former S.C. Chief Justice Ernest Finney Jr., the first black man to hold that post in the state; the current Chief Justice Jean Toal, the first woman to hold that position; and Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission.

“I spoke to a young rapper who said he’d have to leave to get a real opportunity,” Bonsignor said. “We should be providing opportunities here. That’s what we are trying to do. If you think you have talent, join us.”