The 16 finalists at last Saturday’s fifth round of competition in the West Georgia Idol contest had clearly heeded the advice of the judges from the previous four weeks. In the final round this week, the audience will decide which of the 12 remaining contestants will be the grand prize winner.
Contestant Joseph Rainwater has a beautiful country sound, but he had been criticized in past weeks for not looking the part. He pleased the judges and the crowd last week with his ten-gallon cowboy hat and boots, and he will be back for the final contest.
Brandon Boone has been coming to the contest each week from Five Points, Alabama. He’s appreciated hearing both “the good and the bad” from the judges, said the 28 year old singer. “They’re telling me the things I need to know,” he said, including advice on “filling up the stage” with his presence and showing that he is comfortable in front of an audience. Although one judge praised his “really good, mellow voice,” he was not selected to return for the final round.
Anglea Price of Hogansville spent a week practicing the suggestions she’d received from the judges: “working the mic” and making eye contact with the audience. But she confessed some nervousness about being randomly chosen to be the first contestant of the day. That might have been a factor in why she was one of four contestants who were not selected to go on to the final round.
“Judging has become harder and harder each week, because all the contestants are so talented,” said Vickie Brown, Chair of the Downtown Development Association, which is sponsoring the event. Judges give points in five separate categories, and there have been several ties in the last couple of weeks, creating tough decisions for the judges.
Contestant Freddie Britt’s soulful gospel performances have been well received by the judges each week, and he will be back for the final contest. He is “Marvin Gay waiting to happen,” said judge Charlie Smith, of the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Britt, 39, has been singing in church all his life. Originally from Newnan, he now lives and works as a special education teacher in Decatur. He sings a variety of musical genres at weddings and banquets, but said that singing gospel music defines who he is as a performer.
Audiences and judges alike look forward to hearing Lloyd Buchanan and his keyboard in the final round. “You can slay a piano,” said one admiring judge after last week’s performance. The 26 year old from Manchester grew up playing piano in church and he credits his mother, a voice teacher, as his greatest inspiration. He now teaches piano and voice at his Columbus studio. He said he is comfortable being an accompanist, having performed with Wet Willie and Hank Williams, Jr., among others, but he aspires to “move in the direction of being the front man.” Judging from his Idol performances, he is well on his way.
The final contest will be held on August 14, 2010, at 4:00 PM at Hogansville’s outdoor amphitheater. The winner will receive the grand prizes of $1,000 in cash, studio time in a professional recording studio, and the opportunity to perform live at the Smith Family Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “We’re building a balcony just for you,” judge Charlie Smith told the contestants last week. He also encouraged the finalists to be entertainers and not merely singers. “Singers have hits, but entertainers work forever,” he said.
The favorite West Georgia Idol entertainer will be chosen by audience participation. “The audience has been great” so far, said Vickie Brown. Family and friends of the contestants have come from all over the area. “We’d like to see all of Hogansville turn out” for the final contest, she said. “You don’t need to know any of the contestants to come out and have a great time.”