Minnesota gospel singer shoots for talent show stardom


Joylin Munro-Huggins started singing gospel music at the age of five in her native Santa Lucia.

While a youth in St. Lucia, an eastern Caribbean island, Joylin Munro-Huggins watched Star Search and dreamed of one day coming to the United States and getting a chance to compete against other artists. She started signing gospel when she was five years old and continued to sing in her birthplace of Guyana, in South American, and then in St. Lucia, her father’s birthplace.

As an adult, she says that she’s been offered contracts to sing secular songs but has refused them because she is committed to gospel. She moved to the United States as a singing evangelist, and nine years ago Munro-Huggins moved to Minnesota. Currently she sings at concerts in different states around the U.S.

Not long ago, a friend of hers who she often sang duets with said, “We need to stop being afraid,” and encouraged her to go online to the USA World Showcase website and fill out an application to compete. One Saturday evening, she gathered the courage, completed the application and said to herself, “I will pray and ask God if he wants me to be in this thing.” USA World Showcase is a talent competition that is broadcast online. They responded by requesting that Munro-Huggins call to do a one-minute phone audition. A panel of judges listened to her audition and contacted her within a couple of days.

Huggins had hoped to perform with her longtime duet partner, Perry Collier. “I wanted to do a duet with him because he sings very great, too. He was still scared, so I said, ‘Okay, I will go and do my solo.’”

The semifinals were held this past June in Las Vegas. There were approximately 15 women competing against Munro-Huggins in the women’s singing category. “It was quite scary for me. I went up and I had to do a one-minute singing [audition]…there were celebrities and I couldn’t remember their names. There was a large amount of people looking at [me].”

Though she normally always sings gospel, the gospel songs they had available didn’t fit her singing style. So she chose “L-O-V-E” by Natalie Cole. “I chose that song because I loved the words… Love has a lot to do with how you look at people — how you treat people. It’s not only for couples.”

Munro-Huggins said that when she finished people came up to her and said things like, “Oh, you were great!” and “I think you were the best!” But Huggins said she wasn’t sure she agreed, yet she was a chosen finalist.

Second- and first-place winners will be selected according to how many online votes they receive. The public can go to the USA World Showcase website, listen to and view contestants and cast their votes. Munro-Huggins says that winners will be offered record contracts. “That’s what I am longing for. I’m hoping that something works out.”

Sometime later this year, Munro-Huggins hopes to do a fundraising concert with other singers. “Digging wells in Zambia is a project that I would like to work on in the future…so they can get some clean water to drink.” She also has a passion for children, which she credits to growing up in a family with nine siblings, and having cousins who came from families of 12 and 13.

If she is a finalist, she says, “I want to help kids — see them go to school, have an education — especially in areas where other races may look at and [feel] there’s no hope. That’s my heart’s desire.”

Vickie Evans-Nash welcomes reader response to vnash@spokesman-recorder.com.