By Ed Brock
Maurice Hawk has been playing the drums since he was born.
"By the time I learned to crawl I was knocking holes in the wall," Hawk said. "How you feel comes out when you play."
So, for the fourth consecutive year Hawk hopes to compete in the Southlake Kiwanis Talent Showcase March 13 at the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center in Morrow.
Tryouts for the talent contest will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Mt. Zion Elementary on Mt. Zion Road. Hawk, a 15-year-old freshman at Jonesboro High School who plays contemporary, traditional, jazz and gospel, doesn't have a particular song he will perform for the tryouts.
"I was going to try to be diverse by playing every kind of style I know in the time allotted to me," Hawk said.
Contestants in the showcase participate in elementary, middle and high school levels, Southlake Kiwanis member and showcase emcee Lou Hisel said, and their talents range from singing to dancing to whatever.
"We had a kindergarten level magician who was just as cute as a button," Hisel said.
Hisel has been emcee of the event or worked on it in some capacity for most of its 25-year history. He's seen the show grow a lot in that time.
"We started out doing the dress rehearsal and the show in the B.C. Haynie Elementary School cafeteria," Hisel said. "We have graduated from that to the Performing Arts Center."
That's a big change in terms of convenience, acoustics and everything else, he said.
Southlake Kiwanis is an "At-Large Partner in Education" with CCPS and as such provides scholarships and performance opportunities for area students. The showcase is a little of both.
Winners at all three levels receive plaques and the top three winners in the high school level will receive United States Savings Bonds.
First place gets a $500 bond, second gets a $300 bond and third gets a $200 bond. Group acts will split the bond.
Also, the first place winner qualifies to compete in the statewide Kiwanis Talent Showcase which offers a $1,500 scholarship for the winner.
Some contestants should remember not to overdo it, Hisel said. They once had a rock band enter the contest with several thousand dollars worth of equipment, only to lose because they were too loud.
The showcase has seen some very talented entries, and Hisel said he loves volunteering for the event and meeting the young people involved.
"They're fine young men and women," Hisel said. "My confidence in the young generation is renewed every year I do this."
Sometimes the volunteering requires a sacrifice, however.
"Perhaps the biggest sacrifice this year is being made by my wife," Hisel said.
March 13th is his wedding anniversary, but Hisel's wife has agreed to postpone their anniversary trip so he can emcee the show.
Auditioning students should sign in for Saturday's auditions by 11:30 a.m. and they will be heard in the order they arrive and sign in. They will be picked for the showcase on the basis of skill and audience appeal. The students must provide their own music tapes and props but a tumbling mat and piano will be available.
The performance can be no more than four minutes long.
It is free to enter the contest but admission to the showcase is $3 for adults, $1 for students and free for pre-school children.
Applications can be picked up at Clayton County schools or by calling Hisel at (770) 471-2926 or by downloading them from www.southlakekiwanis.org.
Last year more than 200 people attended the showcase in which 21 acts participated. Judges are picked from the metro Atlanta area and have backgrounds in voice, dance and instrumental performance.