Monroe Kids Got Talent starts careers, one kid at a time

Written by Arielle Lyons, Photos by Jessica Stelzer

Adalynn “Addy” McGuire is a 13-year-old self-taught singer. This time last year, she hoisted a trophy declaring her the winner of Monroe Kids Got Talent, an annual event that showcases young local talent between the ages of 5 and 20.  

Now, she was onstage again, wearing a pale pink dress and cowboy boots, the spotlight shining directly on her face, getting ready to hear the backing track to The Judds’ “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days).”  

Earlier in the show, Monroe County families were delighted by 8-year-olds playing piano and violin, girls in sparkly outfits singing Taylor Swift covers and an eclectically dressed 14-year-old playing bass guitar. 

Monroe Kids Got Talent is now in its 37th year and has been the starting point for many musicians who hail from Monroe County.  

This show is more than an average community talent show; in fact, it’s one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. The kids involved may not have intense training and Hollywood connections, but they do have highly sought-after skills at a remarkably young age.  

McGuire is certainly no exception. Last year’s talent show was the first time she performed in public, and since then, she’s become a bit of a star in her hometown of Woodsfield. She’s sung the national anthem at local high school basketball games and hopes to someday compete on America’s Got Talent.  

“[The talent show] was fun because normally, I’m really shy about talking to anyone,” McGuire says. “I don’t like it. But with singing, it gives me a way to express who I am.”    

In a sparsely populated area like Monroe County, there isn’t an abundance of opportunities for children to partake in the performing arts. The presence of choral and vocal education in the Switzerland of Ohio School District is nonexistent until the high school level, so most young singers in the area, like McGuire, are self-taught.  

It’s easy to imagine a future where McGuire moves on to bigger and better things, especially with the success of Lauren Price Napier, one half of the bluegrass duo The Price Sisters, who competed in Monroe Kids Got Talent — and won several times — between the years 2002 and 2013.  

Similar to McGuire, Napier and her sister, Leanna Price, attended school in the Switzerland of Ohio School District, and Price says they considered themselves to be shy — unless they were performing. They also never had any vocal training until college and didn’t take lessons for their respective instruments — Napier plays mandolin and Price plays fiddle — until high school.  

Now, Napier and Price are signed to McCoury Music, under which they released their debut album, Between the Lines, and made their Grand Ole Opry debut this year.  

Napier says she owes a lot of her performing experience to Monroe Kids Got Talent. “As far as I’m aware, it was the only [opportunity to perform] available to us at the time, so it was a very big deal to us, and it was really fun.”  

For the current generation of children competing in the show, Napier encourages them to chase their dreams like she and her sister did.  

“If you realize it’s not necessarily about feeling like you’re the best that there is or the worst, there’s no measure of that because it’s different for everybody,” she says. “But if it feels important to you, then you just have to do it.”  

After McGuire’s showstopping performance, she walked home from the 37th annual Monroe Kids Got Talent with a first-place medal in the vocalist category for her age group and the Artistic Excellence award for the entire show.   

“[I’m] very excited and happy that I won again,” she says.

As McGuire continues to chase her dreams, it is possible she may one day appear on TV, and Monroe’s show might just be the smallest “Got Talent” she’ll win.