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Showcase Winners reflect on the cancellation of Best of the Best

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Six times each year, Belmont students and faculty pack the Curb Event Center for the Belmont Showcase Series. One act from each concert-style production gets the opportunity to perform at the Best of the Best showcase in April.

The Best of the Best Showcase, which was scheduled to take place last Saturday but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The showcase staff posted on the CEMB Showcase Series Facebook on March 20 that the show would be canceled in order to prioritize the health and safety of the student body.

So many of these artists had their hopes and plans completely turned upside down. Annie DiRusso, winner of the Pop/Rock Showcase, said she and her band were disappointed, but they understand that it’s necessary at this time.

“It’s better for everyone to stay safe,” DiRusso said. “It’s what we have to do to make sure everyone’s doing their part for staying inside and slowing the spread.”

With a similar sense of understanding, Urban Showcase winner Chloé Hogan said that she chose to put extra time into her faith while dealing with the loss of this opportunity.

“God knows what he’s doing during this time, and His plan is greater than anything we could have wished for,” Hogan said. She and her band have become even more grateful for their time spent performing at Urban Showcase, said Hogan.

The most recent winner and Country Showcase winner Cole Ritter said that he’ll remember to treasure his time on stage more.

“People take for granted things like going to the store and hanging out with friends,” said Ritter. “We’re just going to be so excited to get back together and be able to play music together.”

Natalie Layne, Christian Showcase winner, is also looking forward to being back with her band.

As a senior, Layne was most looking forward to her final jazz band performance and the Best of the Best Showcase. Natalie has been with her band since age 13, when they all still lived in Colorado. Although she was disappointed to hear about the news of the showcase being canceled, she knows they’ll have more shows together.

“We’ll just be so excited to be back together, as everyone will be,” said Layne.

Layne also said that she’s incredibly grateful to be with her family as she processes the current situation and that she’ll be working on being extra prepared for when she gets back on stage.

All four of these performers agree that, despite not being able to perform Best of the Best, the Showcase Series has already impacted their lives and opened doors to the music industry.

“I felt like Pop/Rock Showcase changed the trajectory of what I was doing in a way I didn’t see coming,” DiRusso said. “Worth it isn’t even the correct term, it was undoubtedly a turning point for us.”

Layne was grateful to be able to perform in front of friends and family as well as industry professionals that were in the audience, offering her a lot of opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, she said.

Hogan also recognizes the amazing opportunity she had to perform and win the showcase.

“It was great for experience and seeing God show up in our lives saying “this is what I can do for your life and this is how I can shine through you,’” Hogan said. “We had everything to gain.”

Ritter has gained listeners and has still been gaining opportunities since his showcase victory, he said.

Layne released a single last Friday called “Holding on to Hope”. She has another single on the way and a full album coming out in June. She’ll also be doing a live-stream worship session on the Belmont Today Instagram this Thursday.

Ritter and Hogan both have plans for recording music, but their plans have been put on hold for the moment.

“We will be recording an EP as soon as the pandemic is over,” said Ritter.

Belmont students will not get to end the year with the Best of the Best showcase, but students and performers alike are both optimistic for the future and looking at past opportunities with grace during this trying time.

“It’s very easy to not be okay right now,” said Hogan. “But as long as we’re staying connected and praying for each other, we’ll be fine.”

Article written by Anna D’amico. Photo by Bronte Lebo.

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