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Whitney-Inspired Stamford Singer Shoots For Barnum Festival Win

Stamford's Vonetta Booker will compete in Saturday's Barnum's Got Talent competition at the Cabaret Theater.
Stamford's Vonetta Booker will compete in Saturday's Barnum's Got Talent competition at the Cabaret Theater. Photo Credit: Contributed by Vonetta Booker

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Like Whitney Houston, Stamford’s Vonetta Booker started singing with her church choir. On Saturday in Bridgeport at the Barnum’s Got Talent competition, Booker plans to wow the crowd with a favorite Whitney rendition.

Booker, a realtor with Keller Williams in Stamford, plans to sing “I Have Nothing,’’ Houston’s award-winning hit from “The Bodyguard” movie, in which she starred with Kevin Costner. Booker grew up as Houston reached her heydey and loves to sing tunes by her generation’s most popular vocalist.

“Any song that she sings you have to try,’’ Booker said. “It’s kind of a homage to her and her amazing talent. It’s a good song. Growing up in the 1980s and ‘90s as I did, she has a particular resonance with me.”

Saturday’s show at the Cabaret Theater begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on the Barnum Festival website. Five competitions are planned, and Booker will compete in the 21-and-over division against four other singers.

Booker has more than two decades of singing experience. She sang with a local band, "Soul Real," and performed in the European Tour of the musical “Hair.”  This is the first time she has competed in the Barnum Festival.

“I like to go to various events where I can showcase my talent,’’ Booker said. “I love singing anywhere. In the home, in the car, in the shower. I like to get out there and compete whenever I can. It keeps your performance skills honed.”

Booker graduated from Westhill High School, lived in Bridgeport for a time and returned to Stamford. “It worked out timing wise that I was able to do the Festival this year,’’ she said. “I like the way it represents Bridgeport and the surrounding area, and it fits into my schedule.”

The finals feature 24 singers throughout the five divisions. The winners receive $500 and the opportunity to sing at Barnum Festival events.

“I got a chance to see the other finalists and they’re pretty good,’’ Booker said. “I’m not surprised I made it this far, but there is good competition. I’m confident enough in my talent that it will take me where I need to go. If it doesn’t, that’s OK, too.”

Click here to purchase tickets for the Barnum’s Got Talent competition. Click here for the Barnum Festival website.

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