Ukulele plucking, strong singing and plenty of on-stage grooving earned Nathan Tarasko the 2016 Wellesley Idol title at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival on Saturday afternoon.
Tarasko performed both his songs accompanied on ukulele, which were Wrabel’s “Sideways” and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Rachel Regier sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” accompanying herself on piano, followed by KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.”
Nikki Metzger performed Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
Tarasko received $500 for his win, Regier received $300 for second place, and Metzger received $200 for third place. Metzger was also named fan favourite, which audience members voted on at the semi-finals. She received an additional $125 for that.
What came as a surprise to the finalists on Saturday afternoon was they’ll all receive studio time with Will Muir, where he will record and produce a single for each of them, free of charge. This is new this year to Wellesley Idol.
Muir operates The Sound Distillery in Kitchener and has worked with numerous artists, including 2013 Wellesley Idol winner Amy Rola.One of the four judges, Saibal Chakraburtty, spoke on behalf of the judging panel after they made their decision.
“This year it was really tough as a judge. We were just chatting about how this year we’ve seen a lot of confidence and talent on stage. And by this phase of Wellesley Idol you expect that, but also in subsequent tiers too. So if you were at the fall fair everyone was great. We had a really good group of singers this year, which as a judge makes it awesome because it’s enjoyable,” Chakraburtty said.Tim Louis, JP Sunga and Allister Bradley were the other three judges.
This year’s Wellesley Idol competition began back in May where singers performed one acapella and one accompanied song for the judges. From that group, eight were selected to move on to the semi-finals at the Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair on Sept. 13. They were further narrowed down to the three finalists who competed at the Wellesley ABC Festival.
“What we did this year for the first time is we also had workshops where we brought the singers in, we coached them one-on-one and we really saw all that teaching come to light,” Chakraburtty said.
That coaching led to more movement on stage and passion, which impressed all four judges.
“I’m sure in subsequent years you’re going to see a lot of great things coming from these three and of course the others that have participated,” Chakraburtty said.