After astounding the crowd with their talents during last week’s Night at the Apollo showcase, dancer R.J. Washington and rapper Jacqueline Cox walked away with top honors in the children and adult categories.

Washington, 11, won the $75 top prize in the 12-and-under division, followed by Hannah Vance with her performance of “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” and the Class of 3000 dance group.

In the adult category, 16-year-old Jacqueline Cox claimed first place for her original rap “Freeze Stop,” followed by Kimberly Colburn for her standout performance of CeCe Winan’s “My Alabaster Box” and Ollie Palmer taking third place for his solo harmonica piece “Rhythmic Blues.”

Mistress of ceremonies Brenda Martin, a vibrant part of the show, said she was impressed by the level and diversity of talent at this year’s show.

“I am constantly impressed by the influx of talented performers we receive yearly. We tend to receive a different genre each year. Last week we had a comedian in addition to the diversity already represented. Who knows what next year will bring? Apollo Night is more than a showcase of talent, but is a staircase of sorts, allowing performers to take their craft to another level — one that merges self-expression with an audience connection,” Martin said.

“Encouraging artistic development gives songwriters like Mary Elizabeth Kress, 11, an open musical forum to express her sadness of the loss of her grandfather to cancer this year with ‘I Miss You,’ as well as our grand winner, Jacqueline Cox, to share ‘how important it is to make better life decisions before it is too late.’”

Cash prizes for the Apollo competition, which featured performers and judges from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, were contributed by Dr. Michael D. Canty and Dr. Cheryl L. Bascom.

A Night at the Apollo was one of several local events in celebration of Black History Month. The final program in the series will feature Erma Bush portraying Margaret Garner in “Death Before Slavery” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center, 1620 Winchester Ave.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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