Young vocalists win Christian singing contest

LEWISTOWN – Two central Pennsylvania vocalists are bringing a young face to Christian music.

Hannah Shertzer, of Mifflintown, and Olivia Dunkle, of Milton, are the winners of the Eighth Annual Christian Talent Contest, sponsored by “Get Real” on WGRC radio.

Shertzer, 16, won the contest’s senior division, for youth ages 16 to 19.

“It was my first time doing anything like that,” she said about the contest.

Shertzer said she started singing two years ago when someone from her church, Cedar Grove Brethren in Christ, asked if she wanted to join the worship team.

“From there, it just grew,” she said about her newly-discovered talent.

Shertzer said there were three rounds of competition – a preliminary round requiring contestants to sing a capella – or without musical accompaniment – and two final rounds in which contestants could use musical accompaniment or tracks.

Brennan Paden, 17, a musician from Mifflintown, accompanied Shertzer as she sang.

“I was excited to see where (the competition) would take me,” she said, adding that she never expected to win.

Olivia Dunkle, 14, of Milton, won the junior division, for youth ages 11 to 15. Her mother, Melissa Dunkle, said she has been taking voice lessons since she was 6 years old.

Olivia is also a community theater leader and is involved in Christ Wesleyan Church, she said. Olivia has had extensive dance training and has auditioned at a community arts center and performed the national anthem for a home baseball game in Williamsport. Melissa said she and Olivia are thankful for the WGRC, which offers a rare opportunity for youth to present their talents locally.

Shertzer and Dunkle will be among local artists featured Friday, during WGRC Day at Knoebels amusement park in Elysburg. They are scheduled to perform from 3-3:30 p.m. during a free concert at the park. The winners also will receive a one-song recording session from Songcrafters recording studio in Beavertown.

Though they are young, both contestants have plans for the future.

“(Olivia’s) ultimate goal is Broadway,” Melissa said, adding that Olivia wishes to connect with other kids and impact them through her singing.

Shertzer said she will follow God’s plan for her.

“Wherever he wants me to go, I’ll follow,” she said. “I like (singing), and it’s a gift from him.”

Dunkle could not be reached for comment.