Aroostook Idol goes international

15 years ago

 Image   It has been five years since the United Way of Aroostook introduced “Aroostook Idol” to Northern Maine, and by any measure the singing competition has been a huge success. More than 150 talented vocalists have competed in the talent search, thousands of northern Mainers have seen one or several of the exciting stage productions, five of the area’s top singers have gained celebrity status within the region and most importantly more than $150,000 has been raised through the unique fundraiser to benefit agencies funded by the United Way in Aroostook County.     But organizers of Aroostook Idol aren’t resting on their laurels. Instead, they are hoping the success of the fund-raiser in The County will only grow as they, for the first time, open the popular competition up to contestants from western New Brunswick in addition to Aroostook County.
    Specifically, residents, age 12 and above, who live in the three counties in the Canadian provinces that border Aroostook County — Madawaska, Victoria and Carleton — will be eligible to compete alongside singers from northern Maine in the upcoming 2010 season of what will now be a search for the region’s first international singing star.
    With the new direction, also comes a new name. Although the show format will largely remain unchanged and still function somewhat like the popular American Idol television show, Aroostook Idol, which organizers felt no longer defined the production, will be changed to Northern Star to reflect the wider net cast for talent.
    “Aroostook Idol has been so popular here in The County. We have drawn large audiences at each of the three regional stage show competitions in the St. John Valley and central and southern Aroostook County over the years and entertained capacity crowds at the finale productions at the Caribou Performing Arts Center, but the organizing committee wanted to ensure that we kept it fresh and make it new and exciting,” said Claudia Stevens, executive director for the United Way of Aroostook. “We have received calls from interested participants across the border in years past who were not eligible to compete because they didn’t live in The County, so we thought this was a perfect opportunity and a great new direction for the production. The new name Northern Star came as a result of this new direction.”
    With the announcement, Stevens says the official call for talent for the very first Northern Star is now out and vocalists on both sides of the border are encouraged to apply as soon as possible if they want to take part in one of the three regional shows coming in February.
     The first show is planned for contestants from southern Aroostook County and Carleton County, New Brunswick at the Houlton High School Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. (U.S. time).  Productions will be held the following two Fridays – on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. (U.S. time) at the Presque Isle Middle School Auditorium for central Aroostook and Victoria County, New Brunswick residents, and on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. (U.S. time) in the Fox Auditorium at the University of Maine at Fort Kent for St. John Valley and Madawaska County, New Brunswick contestants.
    The three consecutive regional weekly stage shows will determine three top winners from each region, who will then participate, along with the top contestants from the other two areas, in a finale production on Feb. 28 to determine the one “Northern Star”.
    “We are excited to expand into New Brunswick and look forward to hearing many talented singers in each of the regional shows.” said Stevens. “Singers are encouraged to present selections from any genre, and in English, French, or any combination of languages. They should be wonderful shows.”  
    Applications for interested participants considering competing in their local regional show are now available on the United Way of Aroostook Web site at www.unitedwayaroostook.org and at all Aroostook County Key Bank branches.  
    Although the name has changed, the five Aroostook Idol titleholders will play prominent in the Northern Star competition. Pam Cyr of Fort Kent, the 2009 Aroostook Idol, will perform at each of the regional shows and at the finale. Former Idols Samantha Boutot (2006) of Fort Kent and Annie Charles (2007) of Limestone, along with popular original Aroostook Idol judge Scott Voisine of Fort Kent will comprise this year’s judge panel. All five Aroostook Idols, including Renee Cavagnaro (2005) and Erin Buck (2008), both of Caribou will perform at the Feb. 28 Northern Star finale.   
    Admission to each regional production will be $8 and admission to the finale will be $10. All proceeds from funds raised at the door will go directly to the United Way of Aroostook’s annual campaign.
For more information on the Northern Star competition, contact the United Way of Aroostook at (207) 764-5197.