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Best Pageant Talents of All Time: 2018 Edition

16, February 2018

Every year Pageant Planet compiles a list of the best pageant talents from the previous year based on our Best in Pageantry Awards. Spending hours on your pageant talent to make it just right shouldn’t go unnoticed! If you're a pageant talent coach who would like to be listed in our directory or a contestant who would like to be nominated next year, click Create an Account to get started. It's completely free and takes about five minutes to get set up.

Use the table of contents to find the year you're looking for.

Top 10 Pageant Talents of 2015

Top 10 Pageant Talents of 2013

Top 10 Pageant Talents of All Time

Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron preforms "Listen" at the 2010 Miss America Pageant. Photo: Miss America Organization

Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron performs "Listen" at the 2010 Miss America pageant. Photo: Miss America Organization

Top 10 Pageant Talents of 2015

Honorable Mention: Alayna Westcom, Miss Vermont 2015

With a table of glass reminiscent of Gracie Lou Freebush in Miss Congeniality, Alayna brought Miss Frizzle to the Miss America stage. With only 90 seconds she wasn't able to do much, but she did manage to get the audience engaged and make a big mess in the process. While her talent was introduced with a very technical monologue at the beginning, the audience was clearly excited to see exactly what all she was saying meant.

She is no doubt a hit when she visits elementary schools.

10. May Coppler, Semi-Finalist International Cinderella 2015

At just 13-years-old, May performed Mozarts "Ave Verum Corpus" in a flawless and mature performance well beyond her years. There is an undeniable grace and elegance to her voice, and she performed much like Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell.

9. Aliyah Mashima Douglas, Talent Winner at Cinderella International

This amazing 10 year old performed, "Doll Song" from The Tales of Hoffman, when she won. She has poise on stage and an amazing voice to top it off. She also has a performance quality that is very mature for her age. She is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. Below she is performing at the 2015 AAMTC Talent Competition in Dallas, TX and also performed the same routine at Cinderella Internationals.

8. Mariah Larronde, Miss North Phoenix's Outstanding Teen 2016

Mariah was a recent Cinderella State Teen prior to being crowned Miss North Phoenix's Outstanding Teen in October 2015. For anyone tired of hearing the Frozen soundtrack, you'll love Mariah singing, "Do You Want to Be My Boyfriend."  She performed it during her Cinderella competitions and below is performing it at East Valley's Got Talent which she won and went on to win Arizona's Got Talent. Be sure to watch for her, because this young lady certainly has talent and is extremely comfortable on stage.

7. Taylor Wiebers, Miss Iowa 2015

Taylor won multiple preliminary awards during the week leading up to Miss America, including preliminary talent, but unfortunately did not make into the talent competition of the Miss America Finals. Her voice is no doubt amazing and anyone who had heard her perform before and after finals night wondered how she didn't make it to the top. Below she is performing for a news station morning show after returning to Iowa following Miss America 2016.

6. Georgia Frazier, Miss Oklahoma 2015

Georgia's vibrant performance of "Happy Days Are Here Again" by Barbara Streisand earned her adoration from the judges, who were clearly engaged as she sang. She even earned a small smile from the head judge, Vanessa Williams. Knowing Georgia's battle with Cervical Cancer makes her song choice even more special.

5. Jessi Grandillas, Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen 2015

Jessi performed a soulful pop vocal at Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2016. Not only did she sing, but she also played guitar. Her performance won her a preliminary talent award in addition to evening gown and onstage question preliminaries. She also finished 3rd Runner-up to Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2016, Allie Nault. In the link below she is performing "You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson while taking a break from rehearsing her talent for Miss America's Outstanding Teen.

Jessi Gradillas, Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen 2015. Photo courtesy of the Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

Jessi Gradillas, Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen 2015. Photo May Coppcourtesy of the Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

4. Daja Dial, Miss South Carolina 2015

Daja sang "Believe" from Fantasia Barrino during the talent portion of Miss America. Her performance was good, but certainly wasn't as commanding as other performances. Her passion was clear as she moved around the stage, but her voice seemed a bit muffled as if her nerves were getting to her a bit.

3. Lisa Punch, Miss World Guyana 2015

Lisa won the Miss World Talent Competition with her performance of "One Last Time," an original song inspired by her deceased cousin. She sings with a passion and heart that surly captured the judge's attention and made her stand out to win.

2. Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016

Betty's strong performance of "Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio" sealed the crown for her at the Miss American 2016 pageant. She won one of the talent preliminary awards earlier in the week. If my memory is correct, there was even a small smile from Vanessa Williams, head judge, following this performance. Since her Miss America win she has performed with the Philly POPS, at various schools, and at sporting events.

1. Kelley Johnson, Miss Colorado 2015

Without a doubt, the most talked about talent of 2015 was Kelley Johnson's original monologue about nursing and her patient with Alzheimer's, Joe. Kelley's passion and heart was shown in her eyes and in her voice as she spoke to the audience about something that so many people deal with on a daily basis. Her basic costume featuring her scrubs, sneakers, and stethoscope was ridiculed on The View. She was invited on Ellen. She made everyone look at nurses in a new light and gave them a spotlight. Her monologue has allowed other girls to embrace monologue has a talent. She has become proof that you do not have to be able to sing, dance, or twirl to make it into the Top 5 and 2nd Runner-up at Miss America. Way to go, Kelley!

Top 10 Pageant Talents of 2013

10.  Miss Ohio

Miss Ohio 2013, Heather Wells, performed a lyrical dance to "Alabaster Box." With amazing grace and poise, Wells won my heart over with this self-choreographed routine she performed at Miss Ohio 2013 and the Miss America 2014 pageant.

miss ohio, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Ohio 2013, Heather Wells

9.  Miss West Virginia

From her high belting and her great ability to project strong emotion into her talent, Miss West Virginia 2013, Miranda Harrison, wowed the audience on prelim night when she performed her rendition "Feelin' Good."

miss west virginia, miss america, pageant talent

Miss West Virginia 2013, Miranda Harrison

8.  Miss Wisconsin

 Miss Wisconsin 2013, Paula Kuiper, amazed us all with performing "Hungarian Rapsodie Mignonne" at the Miss Wisconsin 2013 and the Miss America 2014 pageant. She played her rendition of the song and gave a dynamite performance.

miss wisconsin, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Wisconsin 2013, Paula Kuiper

7.  Miss Florida

In spite of her injury, Miss Florida 2013, Myrrhanda Jones, performed an astounding baton routine on the Miss America stage this year to the song "Big Noise From Winnetka" and was also a talent prelim winner.

miss florida, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Florida 2013, Myrrhanda Jones

6.  Miss New Hampshire

Talent prelim winner, Miss New Hampshire 2013, Samantha Russo, performed "Don't Rain On My Parade."  Her powerful vocals and unique talent wear sent her talent soaring through the raptors.

miss new hampshire, miss america, pageant talent

Miss New Hampshire, Samantha Russo

5. Miss California

The beautiful ballet en pointe routine to "The Swan" was performed by no other than Miss California 2013, Crystal Lee. She left everyone breathless with this outstanding routine she performed at the Miss America pageant 2014 and became the 1st Runner-Up to Miss America.

miss california, miss america, pageant talent

Miss California 2013, Crystal Lee

4. Miss Connecticut

Miss Connecticut 2013, Kaitlyn Tarpey, performed an Irish Step Dance to "Reel Around the Sun." Irish step dancing is one of my favorite talents to watch and Tarpey was an absolute treat to watch perform this at the Miss America 2014 competition.

miss connecticut, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Connecticut 2013, Kaitlyn Tarpey

3.  Miss Minnesota

Without a doubt, Minnesota was one of the best performances in talent history this year at the Miss America 2014 pageant. This talent prelim winner, Rebecca Yeh, performed "Scherzo Tarantella" on violin and captured the hearts of many. This performance was exciting and was played with such beauty, there was no way anyone could turn her down for talent prelim winner.

miss minnesota, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Minnesota 2013, Rebecca Yeh

2. Miss New York (Miss America 2014)

The newly crowned Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, performed a traditional bollywood dance to "Dhoom Tana." This performance was unique and strong. Throughout her whole performance you could truly tell she was enjoying herself. There was no surprise after this performance, when this beautiful dancer won the title of Miss America 2014.

miss new york, miss america, pageant talent

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri

1. Miss Oklahoma

Performing "Everybody Say's Don't," Kelsey Griswold, Miss Oklahoma 2013, wowed the Miss America audience with her powerful performance of this song. Although she did not win talent prelim or Miss America, she gave the performance of her life and left her mark on the Miss America stage that day and will always be my number 1 performance of the Miss America 2014 competition.

miss oklahoma, miss america, pageant talent

Miss Oklahoma 2013, Kelsey Griswold

 

Top 10 Pageant Talents Of All Time

10. Miss America 1989, Gretchen Carlson

Call her Madame President. The Miss America Organization recently announced that Gretchen Carlson would be taking over as the chairman of the organization. This comes after former CEO Sam Haskell was forced to resign after The Huffington Post released an article revealing e-mails between Haskell and other board members trashing former titleholders. However, before leading the organization, Carlson was a contestant herself.

At the 1989 Miss America Pageant, Carlson played "Zigeunerweisen" by Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate on violin. The moving performance not only won her a preliminary talent award but also the title of Miss America 1989, making her the third woman from Minnesota to capture the crown. The moving performance allowed Carlson to feature a variety of skills within a relevantly short amount of time, a key for every successful pageant talent.

9. Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan

At just 17 years old, Teresa Scanlan became the youngest woman to win the title of Miss America since Bette Cooper in 1937. Scanlan played her rendition of White Water Chopsticks and stunned the nation with her outstanding skills on the piano. As her hands moved down the keys, her points climbed up in the talent competition with her own rendition of "White Water Chopsticks." Combined with a stunning red gown, the performance wowed the audience and judges. Many believe Miss America to be Scanlan's first pageant because of her young age. However, she actually competed for the title of Miss Nebraska's Outstanding Teen. She never won the state title, but her maturity and incredible public speaking skills made her the perfect contestant to represent the state at the Miss level.

8. Miss Oklahoma City University 1991, Kristen Chenoweth

While she never made it to the Miss America stage, Kristen Chenoweth gave a performance more than worthy of a national pageant. Chenoweth represented Oklahoma City University at the 1991 Miss Oklahoma Pageant where she placed second runner-up to Gina-Lynne Smith. I even managed to dig up a video of her performance below. Thank you, YouTube. Chenoweth showed from an early age she was meant to be on stage. Performing "Art is Calling for Me," Chenoweth brought the house down. With a voice like this, it is no wonder she has a Tony award.

7. Miss Ohio 2014, Mackenzie Bart

Ventriloquism is not easy. It takes hours of practice to master, just like spelling "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

MacKenzie Bart tackled both of these when she took the Miss America stage accompanied by a blonde diva puppet named Roxy. The act earned her a preliminary talent award as well as a thunderous applause from the audience.

6. Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, shattered dozens of ceilings during her time in the Miss America system. She was the first Indian Miss New York, the first Indian Miss America and the second of three consecutive Miss New Yorks to bring home the national title. Davuluri made history again with her talent. Embracing her culture, she performed an energized Bollywood dance to "Dhoom Taana" from the film "Om Shanti Om." It was the first time Bollywood dance was seen on the Miss America stage. The electric routine had the audience on their feet.

5. Miss America 1984, Vanessa Williams

Vocal powerhouse Vanessa Williams represented New York at the 1984 Miss America pageant. She became the first African-American to win the title, part of which was due to her killer performance of "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Unfortunately, Williams was forced to resign her title after the magazine Penthouse published unauthorized nude photographs of the titleholder. However, Williams did not let the set back stop her. She went on to release multiple albums and star in dozens of televisions shows, including "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives." After finding such success, the Miss America Pageant publicly apologize to Williams on stage at the 2016 Miss America Pageant.

4. Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields

In one of the sassiest dances ever to sashay across the Miss America stage, Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, leaped her way into the hearts of pageant fans everywhere. Shields capitalized on her spunky personality and went with a jazz dance to "They Just Keep Moving the Line" from the NBC show "Smash." The performance, like many Miss America's, earned Shields a preliminary talent award.

Shields is an incredible dancer. Her technique is amazing. Since her technique is so strong, she went for a very simple style that allowed it to shine. (

Her white leotard is simple but still has some sparkle for the stage. Shields is barefoot with her hair neatly pulled back. There is no ornate costume or gimmick. You are watching her and her alone, which makes her raw talent the star.

3. Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell

Representing Georgia, Betty Cantrell had one of the best classical opera performances ever seen on the Miss America stage. Cantrell won over the judges and America with her rendition of "Tu? tu? Piccolo iddio!" from Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Her voice was beautiful yet powerful. The performance also earned her a preliminary talent award.

Aside from an incredible voice, Cantrell's talent was successful because she connected to the piece. Let's face it, how many of us really understand anything she is singing? After all, it is in Italian.

However, Cantrell clearly understands the story of the song. She conveys the emotion of the piece with her face and body. This keeps the audience engaged even though they might not understand the language.

2. Miss Florida 2013, Myrrhanda Jones

Twirl three batons at once.

Twirl three batons at once in front of a panel of judges, a live audience and on national television.

Now do all this on the Miss America stage...

Oh, and you have a torn ACL.

This is the exact situation Miss Florida 2013, Myrrhanda Jones, found herself in at the 2014 Miss America pageant. On the third day of the preliminary competition, Jones was practicing her baton routine to "Big Noise" when she tore her ACL and MCL. She went on to compete that night, sporting a bulky leg brace and flats. To everyone's amazement, she performed her slightly adjusted routine flawlessly and was awarded a preliminary talent award.

Jones then performed the routine again on the final night of competition when she was called into the Top 10. Sporting the same bulky brace, which had acquired a new layer of rhinestones, Jones nailed the routine and made the Top 5. She walked away with a third runner-up placement.

1. Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron

If you are going to sing Beyonce, THIS IS HOW YOU SING BEYONCE!!!!

There are certain artists whose songs are hard to use for pageant talents. This is because the artist's sound is so unique, like Beyonce's, that your performance is automatically compared to the original artists. So, if you want to sing a big song like "Listen," your performance has to be so flawless that the judges go, "Beyonce who?"

Miss Virginia 2009 and later Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron, did just that with this bone-chilling performance. Cameron brought out every vocal chop she had to give one of the best talents to ever cross a pageant stage.

Now, it is nearly impossible to fake this amount of emotion in a performance so the only question I have is...

Girl, who hurt you?

From vocalists to instrumentalists to dancers, these ladies brought it all to the talent competition. While the pressure may be great, the feeling of nailing your talent routine is unlike anything else. There have been so many stellar talents in recent years, it is hard to pick only 10!

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