Brentwood resident Charlotte Kinsella, 12, was named the 2011 Youth Brentwood Idol last Thursday for her rendition of “Popular” from the Broadway musical “Wicked.” Her vocal power and animated stage presence made Charlotte an instant favorite with the crowd and judges.
Likewise, Discovery Bay resident Holly Durham proved you needn’t look “Over the Rainbow” to find East County’s most talented singers. The Adult Brentwood Idol winner won over the children in the audience of more than 200 spectators by asking them to sit by her while she crooned the “Wizard of Oz” classic and handed out lollipops to the attentive munchkins.
Brentwood Idol contestants don’t vie for multi-million dollar recording contracts, but the chance for local stardom and bragging rights continues to draw the most talented East County singers to downtown Brentwood for this signature summer event each year. This year’s event featured three adult competitors and 17 youth contestants, a record high for Brentwood Idol, now in its third year.
Host Gene Clare was impressed by the caliber of this year’s performances. “I’m amazed by the extraordinary talent we have in East County,” Clare said. “Events like this are what make Brentwood great. This is a fun event for the whole family to enjoy in downtown Brentwood.”
Durham, who competed against Eldon Raudebaugh and Kristin Bradshaw, entered the competition because she relished the idea of performing in the heart of Brentwood before a crowd that decided to spend the evening enjoying the revitalized yet quaint atmosphere of the new downtown.
The self-proclaimed grandmother of the competitors enjoyed listening to her competitors as much as performing her own number. “I had a great time tonight,” Durham said following last Thursday’s victory. “I was surprised by how talented the contestants are from East County. It’s great that Brentwood offers a venue where people can share their talents with others. I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
The abundance of competitors in the Youth division gave judges Jack Gaughan, Emil Geddes, Ike Montanez and Sue Stuart all they could handle. But when factoring in vocal talent, stage presence and audience participation, it became clear that Charlotte Kinsella was the top performer. After seeing “Wicked” live, she decided to give “Popular” her personal interpretation. But it wasn’t a runaway victory. Charlotte faced stiff competition from several competitors, including her sister Bridgette, 12, who sang “The Wizard and I,” also from “Wicked.”
“I’m really excited. I didn’t expect to win,” Charlotte said. “There were so many talented people here tonight.” She intends to donate her $100 cash prize to Bristow Middle School’s production department to help students gain access to newer equipment.
Charlotte and Bridgette weren’t the only sister duo to share their talents with the crowd. Returning competitor Jewels Rios came back strong with a performance of “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood while her younger sister Kylie made a solid debut with a performance of Adele’s “Chasing Pavement.”
Sisters KC and Amanda Patterson both sang Taylor Swift’s “Mine.” Amanda, 7, the youngest Idol competitor, surprised the audience with her ability to remember all the lyrics. While her voice is soft now, the crowd appeared to see promise in the pint-size Idol contestant.
Ian Gardizi, 10, the only male to compete in the Youth division, sang “Waiting Outside the Lines” by Greyson Chance.
This year, the girls spurned traditional ballads and brought some sass. Kelsi Holt, 11, energetically performed “Just a Girl” by No Doubt and Emma Feddersen, 9, rocked an a capella rendition of “Undo It” by Carrie Underwood. Adriana Baxley, 13, also took a page from American Idol Underwood, belting out “Before He Cheats,” unleashing her powerful voice while warning boys in the audience not to mess with her.
Other standouts of the evening included the debut of Rianna Llanes, 17, who sang “Someone Like You” by Adele; Jashmyn Cranto, 16, who performed “Turn Me On” by Norah Jones; and Jamie Storzbach, 13, who returned to Idol with “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5.
Other competitors – Taylor Angelee Maselli-Nesbitt, 13; Haley Williams, 10; Jacqueline Scott, 11; and Saksia Straub, 8 – are singers to reckon with at next year’s competition.