BEMUS POINT - The eighth annual Chautauqua Lake Idol competition will begin Monday night on the Floating Stage in Bemus Point, and there are plenty of new twists in store for fans of the event.
Twelve performers from around the area will once again be vying for the title of Chautauqua Lake Idol and the prizes that come along with it. Andrew Hill, Media One Group station manager and producer/host of Chautauqua Lake Idol, said that this year's competition is full of contestants of a high caliber of talent.
''Good singers did not make the cut, so we have big expectations out of those who were selected,'' Hill said, speaking of the event's audition process.
Fans of local entertainment will once again gather at the Floating Stage in Bemus Point on Monday nights this summer for Chautauqua Lake Idol, just as they did last year to hear performers such as Andrew Tefft of Jamestown. This year’s competition will begin Monday night at 6:30 p.m., with 12 finalists singing. A winner will be crowned on Aug. 15.
P-J file photo by Dave Emke
The field consists of eight singers from Jamestown and four from elsewhere in the county. Competing in this year's Chautauqua Lake Idol will be Jamestown's Mike Bidney, Emily Blackwood, Julie Haight, Jaala Haskins, Stephanie Higbee, Elizabeth Lucas, Jon Osterdahl and Ashlie Sperry, along with Brent Ball from Findley Lake, Dan Shoots from Fredonia, Dallas Marsh from Kennedy, and Samantha DeJesus from Portland.
In the past two years of Chautauqua Lake Idol, the first night of the competition has been somewhat of a ''warmup'' - with no singers being eliminated. However, Hill said, two singers will go home after the first Monday night this year - meaning that singers will need to bring their 'A' game right out of the gate.
''In the past, we have seen that some of our best performers from the audition process have fouled up during the first show, so it's obvious that nerves play a big role in this program,'' Hill said. ''We have thousands of people watching, a live stage band and an outside atmosphere - it's intimidating for even the most talented singer.''
NEW CROP OF JUDGES
While Tim Edborg will return for his fifth year as an Idol judge, the remainder of the judges' table at Chautauqua Lake Idol will be filled this year by new faces.
Joining Edborg this year will be Michelle Paterniti, Patricia Newman and Andrew Minton. Though there were vacancies on the panel, Hill said that there was no difficulty finding talented individuals to fill the roles.
''We had more than 25 professionals from the local community apply to volunteer on our panel,'' he said. ''We think this feedback is a great reflection on the popularity of our program.''
Ms. Paterniti has been active in music and theater since her days at Jamestown High School, and later attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for interior design. While there, she continued her musical and theatrical interests, playing original songs in local cafes and bars. Today, she enjoys singing in the St. James Choir and playing in its chimes group.
Ms. Newman grew up in Buffalo and had extensive voice training at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, during which time she had the opportunity to sing with the Metropolitan Opera Company, Shea's Performing Arts Company and ArtPark. She also danced ballet under the instruction of Bernadine De Mike for many years.
Minton has taught music in Chautauqua County for 11 years, including the past eight at Sherman Central School. He has also taught for several years at the Infinity Visual and Performing Arts program. He was a member of local band the Porcelain Bus Drivers for many years, playing saxophone and keyboard. He has also been a member of the bands Mad Dingo and DB and the Funk Machine.
Another change to the Chautauqua Lake Idol presentation this year is the addition to the Junior Idol Showcase.
Eleven talented high school students, chosen by their schools, will perform on the Floating Stage during the Chautauqua Lake Idol competition this year. However, they will not be competing against one another, Hill said.
''It is not in our best interest to judge children,'' he said. ''They should be supported and encouraged to try their best, and I want no part in telling a child they are not good enough (compared to another).''
These performers are all good enough, Hill said, to be showcased in their own right. So during each of the first five weeks of the Chautauqua Lake Idol competition, two or three of the young singers will perform a song of their choice during the evening. Singing this year during the first Junior Idol Showcase will be the following:
June 27: Karlie Johnson from Chautauqua Lake Central School and Rachel Querreveld from Jamestown High School;
July 11: Justin Gloss from Silver Creek Central School and Amie Adams from Maple Grove High School;
July 18: Laura Pfleuger from Forestville Central School and Micaela Young from Sherman Central School;
July 25: Tyler Stimson from Falconer Central School, Jordan Ferraro from Frewsburg Central School and Alora Sherbert from Southwestern Central School; and
August 1: Katherine Turnquist from Panama Central School and Morgan Parnitzke from North Collins Central School.
Hill said he is excited for the opportunity to be able to showcase young area talent in a non-competitive way such as this.
''This is a nice way to show our audience what amazing talent we have in the area,'' he said. ''Hopefully, (we) can see them performing at future shows as a contestant.''
THEMES RULE EACH NIGHT
Chautauqua Lake Idol will begin Monday night with an SE93 night, during which performers will sing songs from the playlist of the local radio station.
July 11 will be a Beatles/John Lennon night, featuring music of the boys from Liverpool. July 18 will be a Michael Jackson night, with singers choosing from the classic hits of the King of Pop. July 25 will be a Latin American night, featuring songs from artists including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan. Aug. 1 will be a ''hat pick'' night, as each remaining singer will pick two themes from a hat and perform songs from those genres of music.
The three performers who survive those preliminary nights will battle each other in a finals night on Aug. 15. And, of course, each song performed throughout the competition will be backed by John Cross and the Babalu Band.
''Each year I feel I understate how amazing this group is,'' Hill said of the backing band. ''They work well with the singers and are true professionals in taking very difficult themes and audio cuts and transcribing them into a great sound.''
The 2011 Chautauqua Lake Idol winner will receive a large prize package including gift certificates from Little Caesars Pizza, Moran's Floor and Ashley Furniture Store, The Amish Buggy, Designer Pools, Jon Elder Photography, RS Motors, the Italian Fisherman and Friendly's. The winner will also perform his or her own show during the Bemus Bay Pops' end-of-summer celebration on Labor Day Weekend.
Preferred seating for Chautauqua Lake Idol, available through Bemus Bay Pops, is $10 per ticket. Free seating is also available, however, along Lakeside Drive or by anchoring a boat in Bemus Bay near the stage.
Chautauqua Lake Idol began in 2004 as a collaborative effort between Media One Group and the Bemus Bay Pops. For more information, visit www.chautauqualakeidol.com, call 487-1151 or find it on Facebook.