Kids Country Music Talent Search

ValleyPBS and Bank of America hosted a Kids Country Music Talent Search.
The winning contestants went on to open for Ken Burns’s Country Music Roadshow in Fresno and Bakersfield. See the highlights.

 

Congratulations to the winners
The GillyGirls Band
(Ages 13 and 15)

The GillyGirls Band consists of four sisters–two sets of twins. Savannah and Morgan Gillingham, who are 15, and Hailey and Jillian Gillingham who are 13. Specializing in toe-tapping favorites and nostalgic Americana, their repertoire consists of bluegrass, southern gospel, old-time string and western swing.

Savannah sings vocal harmonies and plays mandolin and fiddle. She is the oldest, (by a minute) member of the band and generally the Boss! When not playing her fiddle, she can be found at the piano, or in the kitchen baking up something delicious! Morgan sings lead vocals as well as baritone, yodels, and also plays bass, mandolin and ukulele. She is a self-confessed Disney Addict as well as an avid pianist!  Hailey sings lead vocals, high tenor, and plays guitar. Hailey loves her cats and all things fitness related. Jillian sings harmony and plays mandolin, banjo and a little bass. She loves writing good, old-fashioned letters, and riding her bike as well as bringing comic relief to band practice!

They make singing and playing multiple instruments look easy, and it is obvious that these girls love music. Savannah says that music is her “refuge”. Morgan says that “music is half of her heart, at least”. Hailey says that what she loves most about being in the band is “spending quality time, making memories with her sisters.” Jillian says that “music is the best way for her to communicate joy.”

They live on a ranch in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, and enjoy the daily chores and pleasures that country life affords. This adds to their charm and authenticity. They have been playing stringed instruments since the spring of 2014, and performing for the last four years at multiple venues statewide! Including, Festivals, Camps, Churches, Schools, Rodeo’s, Libraries, Live Radio, KMPH Fox 26 Morning Show, World Ag Expo, Historical & Folklore Society Concerts as well as many private events. They have recorded one Live Album and are in the process of producing two more! The sky is the limit with these kids!

Lauren Kaff 
(12 years old)

Lauren Kaff is 12 years old and lives in Bakersfield, California. She has been singing since she could talk. She loves the arts, performs local theater, and is a member of 2 singing groups: Boys and Girls Club Music Fusion and the Amy Adams Rising Stars. She currently takes vocal lessons at the Amy Adams Vocal Studio. Lauren has sung twice for the LA Dodgers at the Dodger Stadium, sung at An Evening with Laura Bush, and enjoys singing at local community events such as Wounded Heros, Bakersfield Rotary, and CBCC cancer fundraisers. She loves Country Pop artists like Martina McBride, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood because their songs always tell a story about pursuing your dreams which is very inspiring to her.

Brayden Matthew Madden
(16 Years Old)

Brayden Matthew Madden was born in Bakersfield, CA. He is 16 yrs old. He is 1 of 8 siblings. He was taken into foster care at the age of 4 and adopted with his sister at the age of 5 and a half. He played drums in the marching band in middle school and taught himself how to play piano. He joined the choir his freshman year of  high school and has been in honors, chambers, and jazz choir.  He is also part of the drum line. He grew up listening to country music and has always loved the old traditional country. He started singing one day after listening to Josh Turner sing, Your Man and was surprised when he could actually sing as low as him. He’s been singing and playing guitar ever since and loves Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Randy Travis, but his biggest inspiration is Josh Turner. His favorite pass time is playing his guitar and learning new songs to play and sing. This is his first ever performance besides singing with the choir.

Josiah and Magdalena Herrmann
(Ages 10 and 12)

Magdalena Eun Hae Herrmann

Musical Background: Magdalena plays two instruments.  She started playing the piano at 4 years old, and she started violin lessons at 5 years old.

Beside regularly performing in recitals, Magdalena has performed in talent shows, played in an orchestra for a play and this year, she was chosen to join the Kern County Honor Orchestra.

Although she is classically-trained, Magdalena enjoys the rigors and frivolity of fiddle music.  Whether plucking on her violin “Oh! Susanna” like it is a banjo or racing up and down her violin on energetic hoedowns, they reflect her already playful personality.

 

Josiah David Herrmann

Musical Background: Riding on the coattails of his sister, Josiah got to listen to his sister play the piano and violin for two years before he picked up these two instruments as well.  Even at an early age, he had a keen understanding of rhythm where he would beat on a Folger’s coffee container and compose some interesting songs.  He could hum in tune many pieces his sister would be playing on the violin, may that be Mozart or Vivaldi.  Josiah, too, has participated in many recitals.  His favorite music pieces to perform lately are from John William’s Star Wars.

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