Kettering Teen Top Talent at NCYC
By John Stegeman
When Miley Azbill, 17, took the stage Nov. 23 in front of 3,000 young Catholics, she wasn’t nervous. Dressed in a “Serve like Teresa” sweatshirt, sweatpants, a knee brace and carrying a borrowed guitar, the teen wowed the crowd with her original song, “Revealed,” winning NCYC’s Top Talent, a program of the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis, IN.
As much as Azbill enjoyed the chance to spread the message of Jesus on a big stage, weeks earlier, she hadn’t planned on even attending NCYC.
A senior at Alter High School, Azbill hoped to spend November and beyond on the basketball court. Instead, a torn ACL on the first day of tryouts cost her that opportunity. The Sunday before NCYC, not long after knee surgery, Azbill decided she would join 20,000 others at one of the nation’s premier youth conferences. But even then, she had no plans to enter the talent competition.
“We were walking around the village and we saw the NCYC Top Talent booth, and people were singing at it,” Azbill said. Supported by her friends, she auditioned twice and made the final.
Most of the dozen or so acts that performed at NCYC’s Top Talent auditioned digitally months ahead of time. Their carefully recorded audition tapes secured their spots on stage. Azbill was essentially a walk-on.
For Azbill, performing music and sharing her faith are second nature, but the for years, the music came first. That changed the summer before her sophomore year when she attended a Steubenville Youth Conference.
“I really didn’t want to go, but my theology teacher said it was cool, so I signed up for it,” Azbill said. “That was around the time I had surgery on my other knee, and I thought, ‘I don’t really want to go to this Jesus camp,’ but I did, and it changed my life. Steubenville didn’t change my life, but it allowed Jesus to.”
Since then Azbill has been more involved in her faith, joining the youth group at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Kettering, and leading worship once a week before school for a club called the Upper Room.
Heather Dunn, who leads the youth group at St. Charles Borromeo, called Azbill a “natural leader.”
“She really is a leader on and off the court and in youth ministry,” Dunn said. “She’s led music for retreats and while we have adoration. We certainly utilize her musical skills in youth ministry as well.”
At the Top Talent performance, Azbill had a large fan base. She was one of 34 St. Charles students in the room. Many others from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which sent 250 students and chaperons to NCYC this year, also cheered her on.
Dunn said Azbill faced tough competition from other talented acts, but said the teen’s effort had an X factor.
“When she performed, it wasn’t about her, it was about Jesus,” Dunn said.
The winning song, “Revealed” is about how God is more than an emotion.
“When I wrote “Revealed,” it had been about a year since I had this whole ‘come to Jesus moment’ and I realized God is so much more than a feeling,” she said. “He’s everything. That’s something I know people my age needed to hear. And it was something I needed to hear, too.”
“This was a great opportunity, and I’m glad that I could spread the faith through something I love to do,” she added.
Azbill’s performance in the talent show was just one part of the conference, which includes speakers, singers, breakout sessions and other activities designed to help youth grow in faith. A seminal moment was adoration held in Lucas Oil Stadium, where 20,000 young people joined together to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
“This shows the students there’s other teens that really care about their faith,” Dunn said. “There’s power in knowing that their faith is a lot bigger than little St. Charles Borromeo or even the archdiocese.”
Azbill’s music can be found by searching “Miley Azbill” on Spotify and her winning performance can be viewed at NCYSTopTalent.org.