With a second Fort Wayne native appearing on “the Voice” recently, one thing’s for certain — the Summit City has a lot of talent.
“They’re just two of thousands of a very deep talent pool, in my opinion,” Fort Wayne Children’s Choir Managing Director Amber Bouthot said.
Brian Sparr, pastor of Come2Go Ministries, has seen it too. He works in partnership with C2G Music Hall, which hosts an open mic night the first Monday of the month.
“There’s just been a ton of talent that’s been part of this community,” he said.
C2G has seen a fair share of this talent on its open mic stage — Addison Agen has been performing at the church since she was 6, Sparr said, and this season’s “Voice” contestant, Christiana Danielle, actually performed on the stage last year.
In addition, Sparr mentioned other local talent like Sunny Taylor, Rainee Perdue and Jensen Snyder, among others.
“I’m always amazed, and I guess I should stop being surprised, but I’m always amazed by how good people actually are, even just people who are hobbyists or just new to things. We see a lot of young people just cutting their teeth and doing really great things,” he said.
Bouthot said the choir has also seen its share of talent, as it currently has about 315 members and boasts more than 5,000 alumni. She also said the choir is seeing interest for younger and younger children, prompting the choir to start its First Steps in Music program for children ages birth through age 4.
Fort Wayne Children’s Choir Executive Artistic Director Jonathan Busarow also credited the wide range of musical opportunities in Fort Wayne to sparking the public’s interest in music.
“To have a full-time orchestra, a full-time ballet, a substantial children’s choir in the community, the youth orchestra, the list can go on and on, of all the different things that we have that any other community our size would be jealous of,” he said.
“I think that Fort Wayne is making it onto the national stage because the kids here, if they want to, can receive such a solid foundation of not only music education but also support and encouragement and Fort Wayne is such a community that rallies, as we saw with Addison,” Bouthot said. “When there is talent people want to see it nurtured and grown.”
That nurturing spirit is something the community needs to continue and grow in order to keep this breadth of talent alive.
“I think encouraging participation of anybody that has a love of art to find that avenue that they can do that. … We want everybody to know the arts are for everybody to participate in and enjoy,” Busarow said. “So they have to be aware that these things exist to know that they can do them and then they have to be able to fund them.”
Sparr hopes to see more and more venues that are available for local musicians to show their talents.
“When there’s opportunities to go out and hear local music, whether it’s in a coffee shop or bar or open mic, just take advantage of that opportunity because there is so much talent,” he said. “Addison is such a good example. She was playing gigs at places like the Friendly Fox for 10, 15 people sitting around, and then she sold out two shows at the Embassy.
“There’s the mentality I think that people need to break out of, that there’s nothing to do in this town. There’s always something to do in this town. Especially if you’re a music lover there’s a lot of great opportunities to come and listen.”