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Updated: Her Brothers claim top spot in final LHT competition

After five years, annual spring show wraps with a rock band, a singer and an aerialist taking home $5,000 in prize money
Members of the Aldergrove band

History has been made on stage at Christian Life Assembly.

For the first time in Langley Has Talent’s five seasons, a rock band took the top spot at the final competition on Saturday night.

Her Brothers won over the capacity crowd at CLA — along with the trio of judges — with their high-energy performance of Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams’ Happy, to claim first place and the grand prize of $2,500 cash.

The Aldergrove band is made up of a trio of brothers —  Gabe Penner (guitar, vocals), Josh Penner (bass) and Levi Penner (drums). Their dad, Jonathan, sat in on keyboards during the competition, while mom, Teresa, offered support from the audience, jumping out of her seat, to dance along during the band’s performance.

But the inspiration for the group’s name came from another family member — their 12-year-old sister, Tiana.

For Gabe, 23, Josh, 21, and Levi, 15, being older brothers comes with the responsibility of  ensuring they send their little sister the right message.

“As her brothers, we create her social norms,” said Gabe.

How Tiana allows herself to be regarded by men throughout her life will be determined, in large part, by how the men around her now behave, her brothers agree.

“Women have been standing up for years for their own rights, when men stand up for that equality, something unique happens,” said Gabe.

“I think it transcends equality,” said Jonathan. “It’s about uplifting and actually celebrating women.”

Her Brothers’ debut album, She, released last January, carries that message through, with song titles like Beautiful, Love Over Hate and Family Tree.

But it was another Bruno Mars hit, Locked Out of Heaven, performed at the March 28 semifinals, that punched Her Brothers’ ticket to the final competition.

The Hawaiian singer is not a huge influence on the band, but his music is upbeat and fun.

All three songs the band performed during the contest allowed them to engage and celebrate with the audience — something the brothers knew would be crucial to the winning act’s success.

“We knew from previous shows that audience interaction was (key),” said Levi.

“We are deeply grateful to the people who put on (Langley Has Talent),” said Teresa Penner.

The family also thanked the Rotary clubs of Langley, CLA, ACI Alternative Cartage (who provided this year’s $5,000 in prize money) and especially Peter Luongo for organizing the competition.

Second place and the accompanying $1,500 prize, went to singer Stephanie Amadasun for her lively song and dance performance of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish.

Silk aerialist Amanda Wormald took third place and $1,000, for her acrobatic performance, which had jaws dropping as she descended from the rafters, supported by nothing more than a pair of long flowing red drapes.

In addition to the top three acts, a number of other performers also received prizes.

Once again this year, Kwantlen Polytechnic University awarded two scholarships, valued at $1,500 each. Singer Ioannis Tsigonias  and spoken word artist Rachel Sault were the recipients.

Judge Ellie King, who stepped in at the 11th hour for an ailing Leah Emmott, also provided a pair of gifts. She awarded lyrical dancer Alaina Orr two hours’ worth of private acting lessons, while the Horvats — a band comprised of a father and his son and daughter — received a season’s pass for King’s Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s upcoming productions.

In addition to King, this year’s judging panel was made up of talent agent Jolienne Moore and TV and film actor Mike Roberds.

Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Peter Fassbender returned to emcee the event one final time.

The event also featured guest performances by last year's winners A Guy and a Girl, dancer Paige McLachlan who took second place in the 2014 competition, the Langley Ukulele Ensemble and an aerial exhibit from the Circus Lab.

The annual talent competition, which wrapped up this year after five seasons, was presented in co-operation by Langley’s four Rotary Clubs. For founder Luongo, it did all that. And more.

“I was absolutely delighted,” said Luongo. “I could not have been happier with the team of Rotarians who provided support and encouragement the whole way. It shows what a credit Rotary is to this community.”

Luongo was thrilled, as well, by the level of enthusiasm shown by audiences who attended both the semis and finals of this year’s contest, noting that the main floor auditorium was filled to capacity on the last night.

To Luongo, that demonstrates that the annual event has achieved its goals of showcasing local talent and  helping to make the community aware of the need for a dedicated performing arts centre in the Langleys.

“We truly showed on Saturday night that Langley deserves a theatre,” said Luongo.

“Several of us will continue to be involved behind the scenes, to see if we can’t build on the momentum that’s been established.”

James Inglis/ Langley Times photos below, from top:

1) Stephanie Amadasun took second place with her rendition of Stevie Wonder's I Wish.

2) Amanda Wormald's silk performance earned the aerialist third place.

3) Caitlyn McKenzie performed on trapeze

4) Ioannis Tsigonias sang It's a Man's World, by James Brown

5) Trinity performed Jolene, by Dolly Parton

6) Sara Garber played and sang an original song titled Before I'm Gone

7) Spoken word artist Rachel Sault's original poem was titled To the Fable Able

8) Rapper Josh G presented a showcase of work by various artists, including an original piece

9) The Horvat Family performed Little Talks, by Of Monsters and Men

10) Hayley Bouey sang These Arms of Mine, by Otis Redding and LeAnn Rimes' Leaving On Your Mind

11) Dante Arias danced to One Jump, from Aladdin before chatting with emcee Peter Fassbender

12) Alaina Orr danced to Pleasantly Blue by 4 Non Blondes