Lever, a junior at Bentley High School in Lafayette, put everything into Whitney Houston’s ballad “I Have Nothing.” The song builds to several crescendos, which Lever nailed to the cheers of the audience. It concludes, “I have nothing, nothing, nothing/If I don’t have you.” It’s safe to say that Lever has something, something, something when it comes to singing, and she definitely had the audience. In addition to bragging rights as this year’s best singer in East County, the win netted Lever $400.
The runner up, winning $200, was Jillian Uy, a Deer Valley High senior who sang an impassioned version of the Etta James classic “At Last.” Tying for third place and earning $100 were Ashley Goins, a Deer Valley High junior who sang “If I Ain’t Got You,” and Xavier Ali Travis, an Antioch High senior who did an excellent job on the challenging, dramatic Stephen Sondheim song “Being Alive” from “Company.”
Other standouts among the 18 performers were Jordan Smith, a senior at Berean Christian High, who scaled the windmill heights with the inspirational “Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha,” and Katelyn Allen, a freshman at Freedom High, who bravely sang an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace,” achieving her goal (as stated in the program) of spreading her love of God to the audience.
This was the third East County Idol competition. The events have been sponsored by the Antioch Music Foundation, which was formed 4½ years ago to support music education in Antioch schools. Thus far the foundation has donated $90,000 in the form of cash to teachers to buy and repair instruments, scores of musical instruments (including six pianos) and concerts such as Ken Bergman’s popular “Percussion Discussion” and a world music performance by San Francisco Cultural Odyssey.
While waiting for the judges to tally their votes, Foundation President Walter Ruehlig told the audience of about 400 that the “typical music teacher gets in a good year $100 to repair instruments. That doesn’t go very far.” He added that the purpose of East County Idol “is to serve as a platform for our youthful talent, so they can showcase that talent and have an opportunity to hone their public presence skills.”
The nonprofit foundation is always ready to accept donations of cash and instruments. “One thing that’s fairly easy to do is to go up in the attic or sort through the garage and find that instrument that your son or daughter may have used years ago and has fallen by the wayside as they went to college or other aspects of their life,” said Ruehlig. “If they need repairs, we will do that, and then will donate them to the schools for deserving students.”
The Idol show will be televised May 8 at 8 p.m. on Comcast Channel 24. For more information, go online to www.antiochmusic.org.