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As an Observer columnist, I judged and covered more talent shows than I can remember including an “American Idol” audition. In all of those years, I have never seen as much as talent as I saw last week at the Andre Harrell Superstar Soul Search. The level talent and showmanship displayed at the competition made me proud of my adopted hometown, and question why we don’t have more major artists repping the Carolinas.

In a post audition interview, Harrell said he was surprised by the talent. He raved about the quality and versatility of the singers. He wasn’t hyping us up. The second round was only supposed to include 10 people. There were 13. The final round was supposed to whittle the competition down to three. He asked five to sing again. And when it came to choosing a winner, after consulting with Mama Hailey (her son K-Ci was a judge), Harrell still couldn’t choose just one. He chose two.

On that stage, I saw at least a dozen people who could likely land record deals in the next year. Harrell saw it too. Although, only two people won, he asked his assistant to get contact information for several contestants. And the ones he really liked, he talked too personally. He quizzed contestants about their musical backgrounds. He noted who played instruments and who were songwriters.

Harrell said we have enough talent here to hold regular talent nights. He’s right. However, like Special Ed (also a judge) said during the audition, Charlotte needs to support it’s local and regional artists. Some of us will drop $20 or more to catch a glimpse of a rapper or athlete chilling in VIP at a nightclub. We won’t pay $10 to hear local performers. This city has so much potential and talent, but we need more people to support our local urban music scene.