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Brittany Ballantyne

Equinox Staff


“Congratulations! You’ve made it to Hollywood,” is a phrase endeared by many American viewers, participants, and families throughout the famous “American Idol” series. While students of Keene State College did not travel to California, a number were moving up rounds in Keene Idol, an event that took place Saturday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m. in the Night Owl Cafe.

The American Choral Directors Association of KSC (ACDA), put on their first ever Keene Idol after coordinating this brand new organization last year.

ACDA is a group of musically talented people who meet, attend conferences, and work to further themselves to a more professional role in choral directing in the future. Ellie Hahn, the group’s treasurer, explained that the association was approved in the spring of last year.
These members had the idea for Keene Idol since last semester, and after all their hard work, their plans fell into place after Spring Break.

Upon tryouts, which took place earlier in the day, Hahn felt there was “a lot of talent at Keene State,” and she was a little disappointed in the turn out of the tryouts themselves.

Although there were a number of students who did participate, Hahn felt nerves may have scared some away from the competition, as well as the busy weekend.

Hahn insisted the event was “just for fun,” and although the members of ACDA are musicians, they were not there to just critique. Despite this, quite a few students did participate.

Those who had the spunk and courage to sing in front of a judge panel and audience chose between three music books of songs and tried out in acapella style. Each contestant had to choose three songs from music books to perform in each round.

The chosen songs displayed a great variety in music genres and styles. Songs ranged from oldies such as “Stand By Me” to the legendary Beatles tune “Come Together.” Country, blues, folk, and pop made up the stream of music that flowed throughout the Night Owl Cafe.

Soft songs as well as powerfully loud songs were hushed and belted while judges Tim Price, Gordi (of the Zorn Dining Commons) and Hootie the owl listened for qualities in each singer.

During the first round some performers admitted their nervousness. Nonetheless, each performer involved the audience in one way or another, whether it was with gestures, points into the audience, or flashing smiles.

Some contestants even began to dance along with their song choices. As performers grew more comfortable, they began to tell personal stories, such as, “I realized I loved singing when…”

During the performances, Price exclaimed, “a lot of you are feeling the music, and that’s just what a great singer does.”

Judges also pointed out pitch, presentation, ranges, and falters in performances as well.

Hootie showed his connections with the singers when he ‘hooted’ in awe, triggering laughter and smiles from the audience.

While the competition moved forward and singers dwindled, tension and excitement grew. By round three, there was already a tie causing two contestants to battle it out in a sing-off type of contest.

During this portion of Keene Idol, singers made the songs their own and took risks in order to stay in the running. In the final round, the Idol singers gave their performances their all, giving people such as judge Price chills and moving many audience members in the room.

After one last grueling judging decision, the winners were chosen. Much like on the show “American Idol,” the hopefuls held hands and hugged to congratulate one another on their varying successes. The three finalists were awarded iTunes gift cards that ranged in worth from $10 to $50.  As Keene Idol came to an end, everyone praised the contestants.

Gordi also praised the differing choices in music, telling all who attended that “after seeing a few thousand students like you a day with the earphones in, it’s nice to realize that you’re listening to a lot of different things.”

Hahn was proud of the success of Keene Idol had in its first year. She admitted she was unsure how it would turn out and couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Keene Idol helped a group of talented singers come together to show friends, strangers, and an association just how talented they are.

As proven, there is a lot under the radar going on here at KSC that has yet to be discovered.

The winners of the competition were Loretta Kelly (first place), Jess Mahony (second place), followed by third place winner Jen St. Pierre.

When all was said and done, the chief concern of Keene Idol was the fun factor. As Gordi put it, “If it ain’t fun, why do it?”

Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at bballantyne@keeneequinox.com

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