Seminole Tribune - Pulse of the Tribe

Volume XXX, Number 11
November 27, 2009

Seminole Star Search Showcases Tribal Talent

BY JUDY WEEKS - Staff Reporter

IMMOKALEE — The walls of the Entertainment Pavilion at the Immokalee Casino vibrated from the music of the performers and the cheers of the audience as the 2009 Seminole Star Search winners, Preston Osceola, Sheree Sneed and Tori Osceola, took center stage to showcase their talents on the evening of Nov. 5.

Seminole Star Search is a program sanctioned by the Tribal Council and implemented through the Seminole Heritage Events and Promotions Dept. to assist Tribal citizens in their desire to excel in the entertainment business.

As a 2008 grand prize winner David Billy has established a new career by joining the Seminole Star Search team and becoming a vehicle to assist others in achieving their goals.

Acting as emcee for the showcase event, Billy echoed the sentiments of SHEP Director Micki Free, when he said: “Our goal is to show the world that Native Americans can do more than just play fl utes and drums. The only limits that we have are those that we impose upon ourselves and as ambassadors, we plan to reach for the stars.”

Billy continued, “Speaking on behalf of the 2008-2009 Seminole Star Search grand prize winners, we want to thank the Seminole Tribe of Florida for their support and show our gratitude to you, our audience, family members and friends who make it all worthwhile.”

to join him on the stage, Billy presented him with a Hard Rock guitar in recognition of his years of encouragement and endorsement of Seminole entertainers and the Tribal Star Search and Native Music Rocks programs.

“This is a worthwhile program and I would like to see it continue to bring opportunities to our next generation,” Nelson said. “My son is a novice musician with a lot of potential and thanks to Star Search, he has been able to share in the experiences and knowledge of his mentors and teachers. Obviously, everyone can’t make a career in entertainment, but everyone that participates in the program is a winner in one way or another.” Leading into an evening of stellar performances, the 2009 winners provided opening presentations for the showcase.

Budding young musician Preston Osceola played a guitar solo of his own composition and then displayed his newfound vocal talents. A product of the Star Search Music Camps, Osceola brought natural talent to the stage and benefi ted from the curriculum which allowed him to expand his abilities.

Sheree Sneed displayed an awesome stage presence as she wowed the audience with two outstanding vocal presentations in a row and worked the stage as though it had always been her home.

Off stage, Tori Osceola, 11, is a shy, timid young lady who likes to keep a low profi le. However, once she steps out into the limelight, she is comfortable and knows how to get the job done. As she sings, she puts her whole being into the music and shares a part of herself with the audience.

The 2008 winners have been taking advantage of every possible opportunity to enhance their musical talents, develop an enviable style and stage presence and have obviously found the key to the door of the future

David Billy is accompanied by a band that allows him to explore various genres including rock and roll and country western, where he obviously excels. Watching him on stage, it is no secret that he loves what he is doing.

Fellow 2008 winner Paula Bowers- Sanchez owns the stage the minute she steps onto the platform. Her extraordinary voice and distinctive style captivate her audience as she travels from one musical venue to another. Displaying her versatility, Bowers-Sanchez has added two Spanish songs to her repertoire.

When Hank Nelson Sr. called his son and 2008 winner, Hank Jr., a “novice,” he was showing humility. This talented young country western artist has unlimited potential and the ambition to strive for success. An outstanding performer, he makes the best use of his band and energizes his audience. There is no doubt that the Seminole Star Search winners are true ambassadors of the program and all share one thing in common, the talent and enthusiasm for a bright future in the world of entertainment.