Narrowing down the field

The judges pose with three remaining Wellesley Idol contestants. Back row: Tim Louis, Amy Rola, JP Sunga, John Bailey and Alistair Bradley. Front row: Justine Sharma, Mitchell Roemer and Rachel Regier. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Wellesley Idol made another sharp cut on Tuesday night, narrowing eight contestants down to just three at the 165th Wellesley North Easthope Fall Fair. The remaining singers are Rachel Regier, Mitchell Roemer and Justine Sharma. The winner will be decided at the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival later this month.

“I’m really excited to be moving on to the next round,” said Roemer after discovering that he made it to the final round. “I’ve actually never been to the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival before. Seems like a great first opportunity to go.”

While there can be only one Wellesley Idol winner, all three finalists can look forward to a cash prize of at least $200. Second place receives $300, while the winner gets $500.

Roemer attends Wellesley Public School and is the youngest contestant at just 10 years of age. His musical interests include a wide range of instruments, including guitar, ukulele, drums, and piano.  His song choice was This is Me by Keala Settle.

Fifteen-year-old Regier has been singing with the KW Glee Club for the past eight terms; her life revolves around music. She took second place at the 2016 Wellesley Idol competition, as well as singing for Canada’s 150 celebrations, charitable events, and various music venues. The Story by Dolly Parton was her song of choice.

Sharma, 17, has a real dedication towards acting and singing, as judge Alistair Bradley remarked on how passionately she threw herself into the performance. She works at the Nith River Chop House and enjoys writing and dance. She chose to sing You and I by Lady Gaga.

According to organizer Wendy Richardson, every single semi-finalist took advantage of the optional individual training session opportunity with the judges.

“The mentors give their individual attention to whoever they have at the time,” explained Richardson. “And they’re scheduled for about 45 minutes for each one. They do an excellent training session – it’s entertaining to watch.”

The decision was made after much deliberation from the judges, which include a variety of talented artists in their own right. The panel consists of Bradley, a local recording artist; Tim Louis, an award-winning full-time jazz pianist and vocalist; and JP Sunga, a Toronto-born musician whose focus is on pop-centric alternative soul music. There was also John Bailey, operator of The Drive Shed Recording Studios, and Amy Rola, a former Wellesley Idol winner and a graduate of the integrated arts program at Eastwood Collegiate.

Each judge alternated giving one single speech about each performance, pointing out the positive aspects of each one and avoiding criticism. Songs performed did not have one specific genre, ranging from Blown Away by Carrie Underwood to The Scientist by Coldplay.

The competition sees participants from all across the Waterloo Region. The 2018 semi-finalists included Tirzah Martin from Waterloo, Eva Geimar from Conestogo, Regier from St. Clements, Roemer from Wellesley, Jorja Smith from New Hamburg, Arianna Riedl from Baden, Marie Behnke from Tavistock, and Sharma from Wellesley.

Although longtime organizer Richardson is set to retire from the event for 2019, the judges guaranteed to keep the 13-year long tradition going for years to come.

Catch the Wellesley Idol Winner at the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival in the Wellesley arena on September 29.

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