The 20 prospective Wellesley Idols have been whittled down to seven semi-finalists.
After making it past the tryouts in late May, the remaining hopefuls are heading for the Wellesley North-Easthope Fall Fair on September 12 before the top three finalists face off to be crowned Wellesley Idols at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.
To be eligible to participate, youth must be between 10 and 18 years of age and either live or have attended school in Wilmot, Woolwich, Wellesley and Perth East townships.
This year’s semi-finalists are Anastasia Bilodeau, Arianna Riedl, Christian Economides, Emily Schlueter, Eva Geimer, Maddy Kuehl and Taylor Kelly.
Anastasia Bilodeau, 15, says her first year competing has been a fantastic experience thus far.
“I am from Wellesley and I’ve seen a lot of people, the one winner went to my elementary school and I took piano lessons from her mom, and just seeing everyone perform on stage just really made me want to do it. I was too shy when I was younger, but I thought now this is my year to try out and I did it and it is going really well so far,” she said. “I am ready for it.”
The teen, who is both an athlete and musician, said she enjoys singing at Resurrection Catholic Secondary events and family gatherings.
Arianna Riedl, 13, says she has been practicing steadily and is excited to perform in front of a crowd of her friends and family.
“We wanted to try something new and see where it got. We went the year before and didn’t do so well that time, so I thought I would come and try again,” Riedl said. “I know about half of my friends and family are coming so singing in front of them will be fun. I hope it goes well.”
Riedl has performed in Mary Poppins with the Community Players of New Hamburg, attends weekly vocal lessons, and is enrolled in the junior musical program with stage school as well as teen acting and dance.
Christian Economides, 13, has always had an interest in music, playing drums, guitar and piano. The Linwood Public School student performs with KW Glee and can be seen busking at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.
Emily Schlueter, 14, signed up to compete after one of her teachers encouraged her to do so.
“I am excited. I have gotten some tips from my vocal instructor and have been practicing lots,” she said.
Schlueter loves to draw, sing and has taken lessons for two years.
Eva Geimer, 12, is returning for her second consecutive year, she says she is looking forward to competing in the semi-finals.
“I have just always loved singing,” she said, noting that she has been singing for as long as she can remember.
The Grade 6, Conestogo Public School student is currently a member of the non-competitive KW Glee Choir and enjoys both singing and playing piano.
Maddy Kuehl, 16, a three year veteran in the competition says each year it gets more exciting to perform at the fair.
“It has been really fun to get the experience of performing and competing against people,” she said.
Kuehl enjoys musical theatre and takes part in her school’s cheerleading.
Taylor Kelly, a past runner up in the competition, is back and hoping to take home the title.
“It has been really good. It is a lot different than last time, which was based only on how you sound. Now we are being judged on other factors like stage presence, which I really like,” she said.
Kelly is heavily involved in her St. David’s High School arts program. She has played violin since she was 5 and has been in 12 terms of KW Glee.
The semi-finalists moving forward will have to prepare a total of five songs, four accompanied and one a capella, and perform in front of a panel of four judges.
With many familiar faces present, the judges this year are Saibal Chakraburtty, Allister Bradley, Tim Louis and J.P. Sunga.
“The judges that we have are fantastic,” said Wendy Richardson one of the co-organizers.
When evaluating, judges consider the kinds of qualities that entertain an audience, such as vocal quality, facial and body expression, engagement with the audience, song choice, personality, as well as technical strengths such as stage presence and microphone technique.
While singers are competing for their chance to be Wellesley Idol, the title comes with cash returns as well, with first place in the competition receiving a $500 prize, second place $300, third place $200 and finally a People’s Choice winner – who can be among the top three or not – will take home $125.
In addition to the title and cash prizes, the Wellesley Idol winner is expected to participate in Wellesley Christmas parade and lead the singing at the tree of light afterwards.
The semi-finalists will take the stage at the Wellesley North-Easthope Fall Fair before the top three finalists compete at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival on September 30.