Heartfelt performances

Sing from the Heart contest brings out area's musical talent

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2005


Back | Next
  J.T. Thompson sings ┐Moving On┐ from the heart during the Sing For the Heart contest at Peninsula Center Mall earlier this month. Photo by M. Scott Moon

J.T. Thompson sings Moving On from the heart during the Sing For the Heart contest at Peninsula Center Mall earlier this month.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Since early June, contestants in the second Sing from the Heart contest have indeed been singing their hearts out. Now their hearts are caught in their throats waiting to see who will be this year's winner.

The field of 28 singers who auditioned for the "American Idol"-style contest has been narrowed to the final three through a series of weekly judged performances throughout the summer.

Singers choose whatever songs they want and perform both a capella and with karaoke music. Two competitors are eliminated each week.

At 4 p.m.Wednesday at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna the final three — Charles Lesperance, J.T. Thompson and Donna Stocks — will have their last chance to sway the judges into voting them No. 1. At 4 p.m. Aug. 6, the winner will be announced and awarded $2,000. The second- and third-place winners will receive prizes, as well.

Sue Gill, Sing from the Heart organizer, said she made good on her promise last year to make the contest an annual one because she saw how much it could help the singers, both in building confidence and in winning prize money. In raising funds from Peninsula Center Mall merchants, where the contest is held, and other donors, Gill has come up with enough cash to give the winner a boost in pursuing whatever goals they may have, whether it's taking music lessons, buying an instrument or even making a recording.


Donna Stocks entertains the crowd with her rendition of Big Spender during the Sing From the Heart contest at the Peninsula Center Mall.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

"That's always been my big deal," Gill said. "I wanted to make it enough that it made a difference in a singer's life. ... I want them to reach for that goal. If music is their dream, I want them to reach for it."

Gill had a larger number of applicants of all ages in this year's contest. Though it's down to three adults now, some younger singers were able to hold their own against their more senior competition. A 6-year-old, Kianna Stedman, even made it to the top 10.

"They're all very, very good singers and the judges have been having a very hard time," Gill said.

The contest's judges are Gypsy Hogue, Dave Nunnley and Lori Mason, all with expertise in singing and music. Mason won third place in Sing from the Heart last year. Gill said the judges have had to make some tough decisions on who to eliminate. More often than not it's a bobble with lyrics that gets contestants eliminated, not a fault in their singing ability, she said.

"These judges have just hated their job because it's so difficult every week," Gill said.

Gill eliminated audience voting this year and has kept the same three judges throughout the contest in an attempt to eliminate any appearance of impropriety or favoritism, she said.

"It's a real positive contest," Gill said. "It's been wonderful. I've have had nothing but positive feedback."

Gill recruited area disc jockey J.R. Kitchens to be the emcee. He and the judges have made a point of helping contestants with positive feedback and suggestions.


Charlie Lesperance performs King of the Road. The piece was one of the two songs that placed him in the finals of the Sing From the Heart contest.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Even if someone is voted out of the contest, it doesn't mean they haven't gained anything, Gill said. One singer was asked to join a band the night she was eliminated. Others have been recruited to join theater productions or have made new friends.

"It doesn't necessarily mean just because you didn't win the money you didn't get noticed," Gill said.

And there's always next year.

"I want people to realize just because they didn't make it last year they can come back and be bigger and better and win the money," Gill said.

Gill encourages people to cheer on the singers, especially at the music jamboree she's planning Aug. 6 when the winners will be announced. Contestants will perform again, as will singers from the community.

"I encourage people just to come watch it because they are just fabulous," she said. "Every week I just feel like I'm a proud mama. I leave there and I feel so proud of the talent we have here."

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us