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'Ville Idol: And the singing begins

On Saturday, the 27 contestants from the Millersville Community of students and alumni took part in the second year of Ville Idol. The event was a competition judged on vocal abilities and performance on stage, with the contestants competing for a $1,000 first prize and a $250 second prize in each category. The theme for round one was 60’s and 70’s songs. The songs were a variety ranging from The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Ray Charles to Kenny Rogers. Hosting this event was Lori Burkholder.

The judges were Raymond Antonelli, a director and choreographer, Ric Zimmerman, an international vocalist, director and conductor, and Deb Lenssen, a singer, conductor, violinist and Millersville University faculty member.

The contestants were a variety of ages, majors and vocal styles. The youngest contestant, Heather Hagni,16, is currently taking classes here at MU, while still in high school. For her preformance she chose to sing Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles, Ric Zimmerman said she performed well, but “shouted at times” while Deb Lenssen said she “had no problem hitting the notes.” She was entertaining to watch and her musical style with this song made a vote for her easy to cast.

Another contestant was freshman Brittany N. Graham, who sang I’ll Be There by the Jackson 5. Zimmerman said she “had a nice, soulful twang to her voice, she could do country.” If she goes on to the semi-finals, the judges suggested she “get into it” and “use the stage,” a comment many of the contestants received.

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On the element of performance, two performers set the bar high in the competition. Watching these two, viewers and judges alike could see confidence and preparation, two qualities all stage performers need. Matthew “Scoot” Simkins, performing My Girl by The Temptations and had the audience clapping along and fully enjoying themselves. There was not a single bad comment for the judges to make. Rick said “I loved that you showed your personality” of Matt’s performance.

Contestant belt their hearts out during the second annual 'Ville Idol. Photo by Megan Hull.
Contestant belt their hearts out during the second annual 'Ville Idol. Photo by Megan Hull.

The second of the two performances that rated high on the judges’ compliments was Kristen Keech’s rendition of Proud Mary by Ike and Tina Turner, that had the crowd whistling and singing along.
Keech incorporated turns and moves that made the judges stop taking notes and just watch. Deb Lenssen said she maintained “Great control of her voice while dancing.”

As for the alumni performances, Steve Koons, who sang Let it Be by the Beatles, sang a capella. When asked why he chose to sing without the music, he said “I tried singing along with John Lennon and was off pitch, so I went a capella.” The judges agreed that it was a bold move, and that “it took a lot of guts.”

Another name to be mentioned for the alumni was Adrienne Howe. She sang So Far Away by Carole King. Along with vocal range, she knew her way around a microphone and did not have their “distance-from-the-mike” problem many other performers did. Deb Lenssen said she had “good control and a powerful voice.”

The next round of Ville Idol, the semi-finals, has a theme of inspirational songs, taking place on Saturday, October 25 at 3 p.m. in Lyte Auditorium. As it is a competition, in the words of Lori Burkholder, “it will only get better.”