The Search for a Star - Live Event
Live Event Judges
Michael Lomeka graduated from The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy. Upon graduating, he joined the Tony Award winning Broadway revival cast of The King & I with Lou Diamond Phillips, Donna Murphy, Faith Prince, and Marie Osmond. Off Broadway credit includes, A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden choreographed by Susan Stroman. Michael Lomeka toured the United States, Europe, and Asia with Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project. In Las Vegas, Michael performed live and can be seen in the DVD of Celine Dion's A NEW DAY... directed by Franco Dragone with choreography by Mia Michaels. Mr. Lomeka performed with Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS, directed by Vincent Paterson and choreographed by Tabitha and Napolean. Michael was an original cast member of Lincoln Center's Broadway national tour production of The King and I, directed by Bartlett Sher with choreography by Christopher Gattelli. Michael is a professor/instructor in the arts where he is developing the next generation of dancers and performers. Michael was a judge in our first year in 2019 and has come back to rejoin the judge pannel for our 2022 Southern Lights: The Search for a Star - The Live Event.
Neysa Wilkins is an award-winning journalist and has worked at WJHG-TV in Panama City Beach since 1993. She's married to retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Alex Semmler and together reside in Panama City Beach, Florida. She is a graduate of Troy University with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Music Performance. She is a board member of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Panama City, a member of Beta Sigma Phi service sorority, program chair for the Woman's Club of Panama City and President of Christian Women's Connection in Panama City. Neysa is a singer/speaker for many local events, including women's conferences, prison ministry, church services and civic events. She has released 4 CD's with incredible success. She is a former Miss Troy University, Miss Deep South Alabama, Miss Southeast Georgia and Miss Warner Robins. Neysa performed at Opryland USA in Nashville and shared the stage with the likes of Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff. She's flown an F16 with the Air Force Thunderbirds, jumped with the Army's Golden Knights parachute team and carried the Olympic torch for the winter games in Utah. Neysa has received numerous awards, including the number one media personality, one of the ten most influential women in Bay County, the key to Panama City Beach, The Bay County Sheriff's Office Citizenship Award, and Panama City Religious Leader of the Year by the Jaycees. Also given several awards by the VFW for her support of the local military, awards by the Shriners for support of children and awards by the Optimist Club for support of children with cancer. (just a few of the awards) In 2019, Neysa came on board as a judge our first year and has been on the judge panel for the Live event ever since. We welcome Ms Neysa back for another great year of Southern Lights: The Search for a Star.
Dr Shane Collins
Dr Shane Collins was Born and Raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He currently resides in Panama City, Florida with his beautiful wife Jennifer, and two children Jordan and Lilly. Dr Shane is a great singer, musician, performer, and is best known for being the voice you start every day with on 92.5 WPAP. He started working in radio when he was a teenager. He’s worked in Birmingham, Charlotte, and for more than twenty years, Dr. Shane Collins has been the beating heart of the region surrounding Panama City, Florida. The 2019 CMA Small Market Radio Personality of the Year helped lead WPAP in 2020 to its second ACM nomination as Station of the Year, an award it won in 2006. He and WPAP have earned seven reader-voted Best of Bay awards from the Panama City News Herald, Hurricane Michael Voices of Hope award, and Dr. Shane was the first recipient of the Champion for Children award from the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, one of many accolades he has received from local charities and nonprofits for his tireless work in the community. He’s not just a radio personality, He’s very engaged in the community and during Hurricane Michael in 2018 was the calm voice during the worst storm the Gulf Coast had ever seen. He’s a member of the Country Music Association, Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He’s been part of the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink Party, American Cancer Society’s Making Strides, “Walking to Win” to raise awareness of better health in Panama City, Emcee’d the 2018 St Andrews Bay Center/Arc of the bay Fashion Show, and Sang and Hosted Panama City’s Shiners Gospel Fundraiser Dr Shane first appeared on Southern Lights: The Search for a Star in 2021 as one of our incredible team of judges at the live event. This year, Dr Shane is coming back to the stage in the 2022 edition of Southern Lights: The Search for a Star.
The Search for a Star - Host
Charlie Dykes is a musician, singer, songwriter, performer, and public speaker. Charlie currently lives in Bonifay Florida where he originally grew up. Charlie works in the healthcare community working with hospitals and other acute care facilities across the southeast. When he's not working in healthcare, he's enjoying his cattle farm and horses and time with family. Charlie started playing the drums in church at age 6 and soon after started the piano. He has played in churches, community functions, fundraiser events, and various stages across South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. As a singer/songwriter and musician, he has inspired people of various genre and ages to take up music and/or expand on their curent abilities. As a public speaker, he has held the podium as a motiviational speaker, minister, healthcare professional, and educator/trainer. In 2019, Charlie, along with several other community leaders in the Bonifay Florida area got together and formed Southern Lights which became the non-profit, Southern Lights Productions Inc which we know today. Still to this day the organization still has the same mission and vision, "To give people with a family friendly talent a platform to be able to take their talent to the next level." Charlie has guest hosted Southern Lights' All About the Artist podcast series and continues to direct the podcast series into Season 2. He has been the host of Southern Lights: The Search for a Star since the even launched in 2019 and will once again host the 2022 edition of Southern Lights: The Search for a Star
Friday Night Performer
Dalan Brown is a R&B/hip-hop and pop artist from Tallahassee, Florida. He started singing at the age of 7 however just recently started performing professionally in 2020. He is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and loves just putting on a remarable performance. Dalan graduated from Rickards High School and is now working to further his music career and do what he loves, entertaining. His musical inspirations include Chris Brown, Michael Jackson,Tory Lanez, Bryson Tiller, Jamie Foxx, to name a few. His performances of note includes events for Famu, Bathune-Cookman University, as well as many other shows around florida extending into Atlanta Georgia. Dalan sat down with us in Southern Lights' studio in Season 1 of All About the Artist where we got to know him a little better. For that interview, click on the "All About the Artist" tab at the top and watch Dalan's episode or listen on your favorite podcast platform. Dalan is a great artist and will be putting on an incredible performance on Friday night at Southern Lights: The Search for a Star, the Live Event.
Saturday Night Performer
Braeden Cooper is a singer/songwriter from Bonifay, FL. He lives with his wife of 3 years, Bailey, and their 2 German Shepherds, Floki and Odin. He began his journey in music at a very young age in a small country church. He learned that he had a passion for music and found his home on stage. Braeden plays several instruments, including guitar, piano, drums, and bass. Outside of his life as an artist, Braeden is a full time Firefighter/Paramedic. In his free time, Braeden enjoys restoring classic cars and filming videos for his YouTube channel, “Coop’s House”. Braeden has been involved with Southern Lights since 2019. He placed 3rd in 2019, and was the 1st place Grand Prize winner in 2021. He has since been signed and produced by Paradigm Records of Paradigm Music Group and has 2 radio releases, with his song “That’s When You Save Me” reaching number 6 on the HLE Radio top 10. Braeden has joined us in Southern Lights' studios for a closer look at who Braeden is in season 1 of All About the Artist. He is going to be performing on Saturday night and you'll get to see a great example of an up and coming artist.