Teen Idol reboot opened up to more than singers
Past defeat did not stop Jaden Alkire, 19, from going on to win the 2017 Teen Idol Singing Competition, presented by the Washington County Free Library.
Before her big win, Alkire had auditioned for the competition for the past three years. After she contemplated career paths, she decided to give the competition another try.
Her decision to compete again led her to victory and an award of $1,000.
“I was completely shocked,” Alkire chuckled. “I never win anything.”
This year’s Teens Have Talent reboot final competition will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.
The first-place winner will receive $1,000 and the runner-up will get $500.
This year’s judges are Shalisha Kerr, a vocalist, and Adam Rutt, a meteorologist at WDVM, as well as an instrumentalist and percussionist.
A third judge is being sought out for the competition at press time.
The competition will follow the format of the popular television show, “America’s Got Talent,” according to Ann Shilling, a young adult librarian for the Fletcher Branch Library and one of the facilitators for the competition.
“In year’s past there’s been a vocal competition, which is wonderful, but by opening up to a broader talent show we now have a more diverse group of students and other people have opportunities to come in,” Shilling said.
Some talent acts include a ballerina, a classical guitarist and a stand-up comedian.
Out of the 20 contestants who made it into the Top 20, the judges will then select the Top 5 who will perform a second act at The Maryland Theatre.
The contestants for the Saturday night show were whittled down from two days of auditions in January. The competition is open to ages 15 to 19.
While there’s a fee to see the show at The Maryland Theatre, Shilling said the event is a “not-for-profit activity.”
The money generated from the ticket sales will go toward the prize money and technicians to set up the stage.
“There has been a number of contestants, maybe five, that have actually gotten really far in some of these national talent competitions like ‘The X Factor’ and ‘American Idol’, so it can be really good being a part of this competition for people who want to pursue a career (in entertainment), it’s been a good springboard for them,” Shilling said.
Teen Idol was created from a desire to have a talent competition specifically for teens who live in Washington County.
Although most contestants are from Washington County, Shilling said the competition attracts teens from different areas and circumstances.
There are contestants who attend public schools and some who are homeschoolers. Two of the contestants are from Frederick, Md., another from Pennsylvania, and a few from Allegany County, Md.
This outlet for creative expression is made possible through the Washington County Free Library’s partnership with the Maryland Theatre, After Five Productions, local libraries, and public schools.
Downtown restaurant 28 South opened its establishment to allow the auditions to take place back in January.
“The kids are super talented and people are super generous and it’s an opportunity that just brings out the best in people,” Shilling said.
Alkire along with last year’s runner-up, Audrey Harper, will be in attendance at the final competition.
Before the judges tally all the scores from the contestants, Alkire will perform.
After her performance, the winner will be announced and Alkire will give the check to the winner.
She expressed her reflections about her experience as a former contestant.
“It was really fun being able to go and have this one thing dedicated to something that I love doing. There’s not a lot of events going on like that, but it was really fun and everybody was really nice,” Alkire said.
Her advice to this year’s contestants is to simply enjoy the moment.
“Just have fun with it,” Alkire said.
Top photo: Jaden Alkire was last year's Teen Idol winner at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown. (File photo)