Berks Mont Business Association’s Sidewalk Expo successfully dodged the rain drops last Tuesday, but it was raining talent Tuesday night in Rita’s parking lot during the Boyertown Idol competition. From the first strain of 2013 winner Mike Rossi’s opener “Holiday” to the last chords of Nikki Stone’s cover of Disney’s soon to be classic “Let It Go” the creative aura that surrounded the stage could not be denied by any threat of foul weather.
Adam Moyer’s look of panic from earlier in the day quickly returned to his usual calm as the show began. Mike Rossi opened, revisiting his winning version of Green Day’s “Holiday” from 2013’s competition. The first 2014 contestant, Diana Brunk, came out singing, wowing the crowd with Jesse J’s “Who Are You”. Next up Kristofer Hughes brought the crowd volume up with the Andy Grammer hit “Keep Your Head Up”. The parade of talent continued with Jessica Rodriguez who had everyone going ooh la la as she nailed Grace Potter’s song “Paris (ooh la la)”. Kendal Conrad, local crowd favorite, sang Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” to perfection. Paramore’s Hayley Williams would have been well pleased with Amanda Smyk’s version of “Ain’t it Fun” and another crowd favorite, James Alexander, challenged the falsettos in Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and rocked the house.
Intermission brought a brief respite for the judges, who were, by this time, wondering how they were going to ever choose a winner. Little did they know that as Anakai Ney climbed the stage to absolutely own Emelie Sande’s “Next to Me”, that their job was about to get much more complicated. Von Weber knew that “Nobody Knows” by Babyface would be a crowd pleaser, and it was. Hannah Phillips (another major crowd favorite) chose “Simple Man” a Lynyrd Skynyrd classic and simply stunned the audience. The next contestant affirms the fact that despite cuts in the arts programs in schools, there is hope that there will be music in the next generation. Bryce Clemmer, the youngest Idol finalist at 14 years old, had toes tapping and hands clapping as he absolutely made the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours” his own. Last but, by far, not the least, another crowd pleaser Nikki Stone made singing the almost three octave range song “Let It Go” from the Disney Movie Frozen sound easy.
The road to picking a winner for 2014 was long and rocky. Simply put, there were no losers and on any given day any of this year’s competitors could have walked away with the BMBA’s generous $500 cash prize. When the dust settled around the judge’s table, Hannah Phillips was awarded the 2014 crown. The smiling Phillips accepted graciously and favored the crowd with an encore performance of the winning song. Based on the turnout of contestants at tryouts and the crowd turnout at the finals (and tryouts as well) we can only hope that the tradition will continue in 2015.