After five times competing in Big Valley Jamboree’s Homegrown Talent Search competition, 15-year-old Sherwood Park resident Hannah Gazso was crowned the winner of it all
After five times competing in Big Valley Jamboree’s Homegrown Talent Search competition, 15-year-old Sherwood Park resident Hannah Gazso was crowned the winner of it all, and had the chance to warm up the crowd as the opener for Sunday night’s headlining acts Florida Georgia Line and Brett Eldridge.
“It was such a surreal experience. To perform that day was an experience that is very hard to describe,” she recalled following the Aug. 2 to 5 festival.
The competition takes place each day of the Camrose-based country festival and this year, featured between seven and 16 performances per day, totalling 39 contestants.
Along with the opening performance, the winner is gifted a wealth of opportunities, including a fully-produced song recording worth $5,000, rehearsal time at a Sherwood Park studio, and mentor sessions from a music business management company.
The win was a welcomed surprise for Gazso.
“It was surprising. I just remember them calling my name, and I could not stop smiling,” she said. “It was such a cool moment to have worked so hard for something for so long and have all that hard work pay off.”
For her two-song set ahead of the popular country stars, Gazso chose to perform a cover song and an original.
“My passion is songwriting, so now I’m just trying to write as much as I can,” she explained.
“I’ve been to Nashville once, and I hope to travel down there again and just really take in the heart of songwriting that’s down there and keep pushing myself.
The BVJ stage is somewhere Gazso said she’d like to get back to — but in a bigger way, adding she’d “also like to return to the main stage some day for sure.”
Her lyrics wear a “folk-country or modern-country” outfit, and her idol in the genre is female country music star Kacey Musgraves.
“I found out about her through BVJ, and I performed one of her songs there four years ago, and ever since, I’ve been looking up to her and trying to do everything she’s doing, which is basically just- doing your own thing.”
Along with her long-awaited winning performance, she also got to hang out with Brett Kissel, and he had something he wanted to give her.
“I was actually surprised by Brett Kissel with a brand new guitar! I’ve been playing my new guitar every day since,” she said. “It was so great to get to chat with him about his journey through the music industry as well, and he was able to give me some great advice.”
Gazso failed to make the finals in the previous four iterations of the competition, which she noted helped her gain persistence.
“Even though it feels like you’re going nowhere, don’t give up, because you never know what could be right around the corner.”
Her country roots could come from growing up in Ardrossan, and now as resident of Sherwood Park, Gazso said she feels right at home in the community, and acknowledges the people surrounding her as a momentum in all that she does.
“The community that exists in Sherwood Park and the surrounding areas is just amazing. Growing up in the community, you always have someone that you can count on and people always have your back,” she said.
“I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without all of the wonderful people who have helped me along the way.”
Recently, best friend Anna Johnson, 14, won the K-Days Talent Search, as well, bringing the two songstresses closer together in victory.
“Anna was there with me the whole day (at BVJ) and we had a blast together.”