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'A mesmerizing performance': Andi Holt wins talent competition

Press Photo by Linda Sailer Dickinson’s Got Talent winner Andi Holt sings a country song, “If I Die Young” while her son, Carson, listens at their home on Wednesday.

Texas native Andi Holt sang an Etta James song, “At Last” to win the grand prize at the Dickinson’s Got Talent finale on Saturday, March 1.

She sang the song in the style of Christina Aguilera when she stepped on stage at Trinity High School auditorium. The competition was a fundraiser for Arts on the Prairie.

Competition judge Brock White said the performance took his breath away.

“It was a pretty mesmerizing performance,” he said. “I didn’t write any comments down, but just watched it.”

The competition was tight — especially between Holt and first-place winner, Colleen Reinhardt, he said.

“Andi picked the perfect song,” White said. “It’s a song we’ve heard a million times, and she made it new again. She has a voice that fills the room, and if she gets a fair shake, she will go a long way.”

White said the judges had a difficult time picking the winners this year.

“Everyone deserved to be there from the first act of the night to the last,” he added.

Holt never expected to qualify for the finale. During auditions, the judges said her choice of a country song didn’t properly showcase her vocals.

 She kept looking for a song until “At Last” was playing on the radio at work. 

“I knew the song by heart, but I didn’t know that version of it, so I listened to it over and over,” she said.

Based on the talent in this year’s competition, Holt was surprised to win.

“I listened to a few of the acts before going on, and felt at that point, there’s no way I would place, so I would just have fun,” she said. “The talent this year was, by far, the best I’ve ever been in competitions with.”

Holt was raised in Houston, Texas, and sang in the high school choir. She studied music theory in college, then married and had a son, Carson, 10.

 “After my son was born, I decided to pick up the guitar and started singing in festivals and bars — but not for pay,” she said.

In 2012, she moved to Dickinson and has been working as the general manager at Taco Bell.

“This is the first thing I’ve done since moving here,” she said. “I’ve been so strapped for time, but decided to take time for myself with the competition.”

She loves singing classic Motown. Favorite artists include Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Etta James.

“I love country too,” she said. “I love wearing my boots and cutoff shorts so that’s home to me. I pick up my guitar when I’m alone at night. I’m definitely a better vocalist than guitar player.”

Holt’s family back home has been sending best wishes since her win. Carson is one of her best fans. He likes to listen to her sing, be it on the sofa or in a festival.

Holt won a trophy and cash prize of $500 at Dickinson’s Got Talent. She also has the option of taking another $500 or a trip to audition to America’s Got Talent in January.

“I’d rather audition — it will be an experience of a lifetime,” she said.