Those nights are almost here. A slowly setting sun, the sand holding on to the last bit of warmth from the day's heat, a crisp breeze blowing in from offshore and 15 of Jersey's best talent battling for a chance to be named winner of the Big Joe Jersey Talent Show.

The Big Joe Jersey Talent Show starts Sunday night June 17th and runs every Sunday night through the summer at 7pm.  To be a part of this year's show go to our sign-up page here.

As we count down the days until we're back on the sand at Jenkinson's in Point Pleasant Beach, we would like to reminisce of the great times and amazing talent that we have had in past years.  Here's part one of our series were we catch up with previous contestants and see what they've been up to.

Ashley Cucchiara was the Grand Prize Winner for the 2011 Talent Show. Here she is at age 10 winning the Semi Finals in the youth category in last year's Talent Show.

Video Credit: YouTube

My producer Chris caught up with Ashley yesterday on the phone.  Ashley took a break from her vacation in Disney World to call in to the station and chat. Here's the interview:

When did you realize you could sing and how did you develop your talent?

When I was 5 I would watch Barney and then sing those songs in the mirror. My mom thought I had a good voice and she started taking me to singing lessons.  I've had a singing coach since I was 5 and she has been very helpful in pushing me and supporting me to get me to where I'm at now.

What have you been up to since winning the Talent Show last year?

We have the trophy still on top of the TV at home. I put the $2,000 into my car fund. (She wants a Mustang) We had a party on Labor Day to celebrate. I have a recital coming up with The Music Academy and I am currently in the auditions phase of the Today Show - Voice for Kids competition.

Here's Video of Hoda & country star Josh Turner listening to Ashley's audition tape and Josh critiquing her performance.

Video Credit: MSNBC

What advice would you give to this year's contestants?

Just have a lot of support there when you preform and do your best!

What was your favorite part of being in the Talent Show?

I liked getting to the finals. Everyone else in the competition was very nice and supportive and they told me I would do great and that really helped me a lot.

You're calling from Disney, what is your favorite ride?

The Rockin' Roller Coaster or Space Mountain. (Two of the most extreme rides in Disney)

Who has been your biggest Inspiration as a singer?

Dream job?

I want to be a recording artist and write my own original music. 

Last movie you saw, last song played on your Ipod, last book you read?

Movie: Titanic 3D  -- Song: Lightweight by Demi Lavoto -- Book: Hunger Games

Ashley added that she is looking forward to this year's talent show, and she plans on coming down to Point Pleasant Beach to support everyone competing this year.

Here she is singing Broadway Baby for YouTube:

Video Credit: YouTube

We wish Ashley lots of luck in the Today Show competition, and as she continues to perfect her talent.

If you would like to be part of this year's competition you can read the rules and submit your video here.

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