Junior Idol takes stage

La Reunion Coffee Café may one day be touted as an early venue for professional performers when they wax nostalgic.

Friday, June 5, marked the opening night for La Reunion Jr. Idol with 11 contestants, ages 12-14, performing to a packed house. Steve Norris of The Overalls was the emcee for the evening.

“We decided to hold a junior version after so many from that age group expressed interest during the previous Idol,” said Robin Howell.

Selected from video try-outs, the following were given the go-ahead to present a song: Sarah Briley, Abby Greer, Allie Fain, Erin Hall, Alana Harmond, Anna Marie Hill, Braden Nichols, Rebecca Rickard, Katelyn Stansberry, Laine Whittaker and Racquel Williams.

The lone male contestant, country fan and Pelham High School ninth grader Braden Nichols was told by judge Alan Taylor, “You sang that well. And let me tell you, chicks dig singers.”

Surprisingly, Braden was not voted into the top seven.

Rebecca Rickard, who chose to sing an acapella version of Nora Jones’ song, Man of the House, was given kudos by the judges for her song selection and rendition.

“We would like to hear a bit more of who you are as a singer,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a Samford graduate with a degree in vocal performance. He has had lead roles in 20-plus dramatic and musical theater performances. He teaches voice, trumpet and piano lessons at Dawson Music Academy.

“My favorite role is King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors,” he said.

Idol Jr. Judge Shannon Cowart is a fourth generation Helenean who has been in and out of recording studios and singing since the age of 4. She spent several years in sales and marketing in the entertainment business and currently works as a chemical rep.

When Katelyn Stansberry, a Helena Middle School eighth grader, took the stage in her red vest and heels, Cowart told her “You have dressed like a diva and you’ve got the stage performance down. Remember to be yourself.”

Erin Hall said singing has been her passion since “before she can remember” and sang Reflection by Christina Aguilera.

“You chose an excellent song,” the judges agreed. “And you have a very agile voice for your age.”

The final seven contestants chosen by the audience and judges are: Abby Greer, Erin Hall, Ann Marie Hill, Katelyn Stansberry, Rebecca Rickard, Laine Whittaker and Racquel Williams. The seven will be whittled to four, then to two finalists.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at labro16@yahoo.com.