ROANOKE, Va. – A local talent show’s message was about something much bigger than talent.
Talent In the Star was the first city-wide talent show and people from around the city packed the Jefferson Center for a night to celebrate the city’s youth.
The talent show was one of the ideas sparked from the Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission. Nicole Ross is a member of the commission and was the organizer for the event.
“We have about 60 to 70 young people that are actively a part of this event. All of those young people said they have in some way been affected by gun violence,” Ross said.
When the idea was first talked about amongst the commission, the group faced some criticism about whether this type of event is an answer to gun violence.
Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea was one of the critics.
“It’s a good activity for all kids but we want to make sure we’re using this money to stop gun violence, to prevent or curb it. I think there’s some other programs or agencies that can do this,” Lea said.
Lea has had questions regarding the commission throughout the year, especially when it comes to spending. In February, the city announced it would be performing an internal audit of the commission.
Assistant City Manager, Angela O’Brien, confirmed with 10 News on Friday that the auditor “anticipated the audit will be complete by June 2023.”
Joe Cobb, the city’s Vice-Mayor and Chairman of the commission, says these sorts of events are more of a long-term approach to the issue. In particular, it’s about uplifting and empowering the youth.
“Whether it’s dancing or singing or playing guitar or instrument, it’s coming from within. That’s what’s going to change our culture and what’s going to transform our culture away from violence,” Cobb said.
Throughout the evening, performers would be introduced with a video interview that included their thoughts on gun violence in the city. Some of the performances were even directly talking about the issue.
In the end it would be Dante with his dancing performance to Michael Jackson that would take home the first place prize. However, every participant walked away with a $25 gift card.