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The Search for a Star - Live Event

Live Event Judges

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Neysa Wilkins

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.

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Aaron Thomas Moore

Aaron Thomas Moore is a singer, actor, choreographer and director who grew up right here in the panhandle of Florida. He is an alumnus of Chipola College theatre and show choir and went on to obtain his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Performance from Valdosta State University. Aaron has spent many years working not only in theatre, but also in nonprofit work with large churches and other organizations, creating programs and opportunity for the next generation to experience the arts in unique ways. He’s travelled the world teaching and training others in multiple areas of performing arts and public outreach. While growing up, Aaron always had a passion for the stage and performance. He was raised in a musical family where he learned to sing at a very young age and taught himself many skills such a ventriloquism and puppetry, which he has used many times later in his professional career. This passion drove him to pursue training and education in the field of performing arts, where he continues to further his education as he is now working towards his Masters in Theatre. Aaron has had an exciting career in theatre performance work, choreography, directing and working as a Principal Vocalist for Norwegian Cruise Lines for four years. He returned home to Chipola College and was on staff in the Fine and Performing Arts department as Guest Director of Theater. He now lives in Fredericksburg, VA working as Production Manager for a professional theatre company. He is back with us for his second year on our judge panel and we are excited to have him with us.

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Joe Whitmer

Joe Whitmer has been working in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. Joe has produced national and international critically acclaimed events that have highlighted performances from many different musical genres. From planning to execution, providing a safe and secure environment for the fans and ensuring the artists have the necessary tools to deliver the best entertainment experience possible are the top priorities. Some of his career highlights include: •Event Producer of the International Blues Challenge – from 2000 to current. This annual international competition is held in Memphis, Tennessee which highlights over 260 acts from around the world competing in twenty-one venues for 5 days on historic Beale Street. •Producer of the Blues Music Awards – from 2000 to current. An annual event that is held at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis Tennessee. This event is considered the “Grammys of the Blues.” •Serves on the Music Selection Committee for the Memphis in May-Beale Street Music Festival. An Annual 3-day event that is attended by tens of thousands of music fans. Joe can also be found helping other local non-profits and community action fundraisers, such as Blues on Reid and Florida Scallop, Music & Arts Festival, held in Port St. Joe, Florida. We are excited to have Joe Whitmer join us at this year's Southern Lights: The Search for a Star for his first time on our judge panel.

The Search for a Star - Host


Charlie Dykes

Charlie Dykes is a musician, singer, songwriter, performer, and public speaker. Charlie currently lives in Bonifay Florida where he 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

  2024 SPONSORS  

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Community South Credit Union
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Marianna Women's Club
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