Within just five months of forming, the local alt-country rock trio Heavens To Betsy made a name for itself as the winner of the 26th annual KFSM Channel 5 Talent Contest Sunday night at the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair.
Performing second to last on the Choctaw Casino Stage, singer Rylee Bagwell and guitarist Colton Gudgell, with Nate Garvey on banjo and kick drum, wowed the judges and a crowd of 200 with "Better Dig Two" by The Band Perry to take the top prize of $500.
Bagwell and Garvey, both of Greenwood, joined up with Gudgell of Fort Smith in May. They obviously have been practicing. She considers Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire as influences. Garvey likes Mumford & Sons, and Gudgell draws from KISS, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. It’s a stellar mix made for the musical heavens.
At least 30 contestants from the region were narrowed down to 15 on September 23. That Sunday, all of the finalists gave judges Trever Caldwell of Fort Smith, Audry Tooley of Ozark and D.C. Basham of KTCS 99.9 in Fort Smith solid performances with the assistance of sound engineers Bill and Sherry Rogers.
Ragan Fletcher of Bixby, Okla., won fifth place with a musical number that was Broadway worthy. Teagan Vick of Ada, Okla., won fourth for her pitch-perfect Reba McEntire number, "Hear Me on the Radio." Niki Waters, 15, of Booneville was named third runner-up, giving her all with an impassioned performance of a soulful song. And Katie Gardner, 14, danced her way into second place with an energetic piece that left emcee Daren Bobb of Channel 5 tired just watching, he joked. His co-host, fellow Channel 5 News anchor Ashley Beck, said she thought the contest "keeps getting bigger and better."
Memorable performances were also given by break dancer Logan Campbell, complete with flips, splits and flying twists; Shea Kelly and Britten Harden of Ozark, aka DeManes, with their fluid and Tai Chi-like "dub step" choreography to "Bullet Train" by Stephen Swartz; and Alex Bryan of Springdale for her soulful, controlled and resonant voice in "Titanium," by French DJ and music producer David Guetta.
Heavens to Betsy will be at the Breast Cancer Awareness event at the Town Square in Greenwood on October 12, then will finish the competition season at the Fair in Little Rock with the Regional competition October 15 followed by the Finals on October 19.