With just a few years of training, Ashlyn Gorden makes a mark in ‘CMT’s Got Talent’

As we ease back into the cultural scene for September — traditionally sort of the “start” to the season — let’s take a moment to catch up with a girl who had a remarkable summer. Ashlyn Gorden, 11, walked away with the top prize at the “CMT’s Got Talent” competition and fundraiser on Aug. 16. She was one of 10 impressive semi-finalists to compete in the annual event for Children’s Musical Theaterworks.

Pictured above: Ashlyn Gorden, left celebrates after her CMT win with older sister Joelle Gorden and younger brother Adler Gorden.

Judges at the event were Maddie Allen, Terry Lewis, Megan Rupe and Dakota Simpson. Audience members received a ballot at intermission and each got one vote The ballots were tallied along with the judges’ ballots, which were weighted.

Ashlyn, who has been training seriously as a dancer for just two years, performed a dance titled “Removed.”

She won a cash prize of $500.

I caught up with Ashlyn for a quick interview to mark the event.

Set the scene for us, Ashlyn, right before you went on stage. How did you feel? Were you nervous?


I was very, very, nervous. I was up against a lot of very talented singers. I felt like I only had a slight chance but I believed in myself anyways.

You did a dance routine. Tell us about it. What was the style of dance? What music did you dance to? What did you wear?

The style of dance was contemporary. The music was dialogue from a short film titled “Removed” that is about a young girl who is being placed in foster care. I wore a very simple leotard because we didn’t want the costume to distract from the piece.

Ashlyn Gorden is the 2019 winner of ‘CMT’s Got Talent.’

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing for three years but training seriously for two.

Tell us about yourself. How old are you? Where do you go to school?

I turned 11 the day after CMT’s Got Talent. I go to Hallmark Charter which allows me to do most of my school work independently at home. I am the second oldest of six children. I have three adorable little sisters, one amazing younger brother who is like my best friend and one big sister who has done multiple CMT productions.

Are you a fan of shows like “America’s Got Talent”?

I love shows like America’s Got Talent because it inspires me to learn even more about dance.

Are you interested in the theater? Have you ever been in a CMT show?

I was in CMT’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” when I was 8 years old. I had so much fun! Shortly after I decided I like dance most of all. Right now, my training schedule doesn’t leave me much time for local theater. I always love watching my big sister and her friends in shows though.

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What did it feel like to be announced as the winner?

I was super shocked! I didn’t think I was going to win. I felt relieved and all the stress was gone. I was so excited to do my encore performance.

What is one interesting fact about you that people might not know?

I was put in foster care when I was five years old. I was adopted when I was 9. I love my family so much.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I want to use this piece to help people think about foster kids and know that they are the same as all kids. We all have talents of our own and we need more adults to notice and care enough to do something about it.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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