Northern Stars rise in Houlton

13 years ago

Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Northern Star-dc-pt-6MOVING ON — Wyatt Jenkins of Houlton gives a stunning performance of “Geek in the Pink,” by Jason Mraz during Saturday evening’s Northern Star competition in Houlton. Jenkins was one of three soloists chosen to advance to the finale.

By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — Three soloists and one group rose above the rest Saturday evening to earn the coveted “Golden Ticket” in the United Way of Aroostook’s Northern Star singing competition.
    For the second straight year, three males were chosen as the top three to advance to the championship round as Wyatt Jenkins and Brandon Clark, both of Houlton and Todd Corey of Mars Hill were selected to move on. Clark and Jenkins were the top vote getters with the audience, while the panel of judges chose Corey.
    A new wrinkle in this year’s event was the addition of a “Group/Duo” category. Brenda Ellis and Darci St. Pierre of Houlton narrowly beat out the duo of Corey and Brandi Kidd of Mars Hill to earn the duo award. Both Corey and Kidd also performed as soloists. A mere three votes by the audience separated the two groups.
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Northern Star-dc4-pt-6TOP DUO — Brenda Ellis, left, and Darci St. Pierre, both of Houlton, were chosen as the top duo or group for their performance of “Turn It Loose,” by the Judds.

    The second regional show will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at Presque Isle Middle School and is open to residents of central Aroostook and Victoria County, New Brunswick. The final regional show takes place Friday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Fox Auditorium. It is open to residents of the St. John Valley and Madawaska County, N.B.
    Once all three regional competitions have taken place, a final “championship” round of Northern Star will be held Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.
    Another new feature this year saw all three judges hail from southern Aroostook, with one of the three chosen to move on to the championship round. Nancy Ketch, Jason Anderson and Margaret Hill served as judges, with Anderson chosen by the audience to move on to the championship.
    “Our show tonight is beyond full,” said Claudia Stevens, executive director for the UWA. “We have 15 individuals and two groups competing. It’s a big surprise this year for Houlton because Houlton has traditionally been one of the tougher areas to get enough people to fill the show. We got the high school involved and that helped tremendously.”
    Stevens added she has been amazed at the level of ability showcased in the singing competition each year and was looking forward to seeing how this year’s crop of singers compared with previous years.
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Northern Star-dc3-pt-6SOULFUL PERFORMANCE — Brandon Clark of Houlton sings the tune “Mad World,” by Michael Andrews during Saturday’s Northern Star.

    For seven years, the United Way of Aroostook has held a singing contest that has showcased a wide array of talent by locals. Last year, Isabelle Pelleiter of St. Jacques, New Brunswick was crowned the first Northern Star. Prior to last year, the competition was known as “Aroostook Idol.”
    Pelleiter, who speaks French as her first language, performed two songs on the evening – the country tune “Blue,” by Patsy Cline and made popular by Lee-Ann Rimes and the French song “Minuit.”
    Open to singers age 12 and up, Houlton’s regional event featured a wide array of talent. For some, appearing on the HHS stage was nothing new as they have been there several times before, either from past competitions or high school plays. For others, though, it was their first time on the stage and the jitters were prevalent.
    Crooning and country were popular song choices for singers at the Houlton competition. Anderson, who is the choral director for SAD 29, gave constructive criticism to many of the singers, imploring them to “get edgier,” “own the stage,” and “kick up the intensity.”
    Jenkins, who was a regional finalist last year as well, gave a rousing performance of “Geek in the Pink,” by Jason Mraz. Jenkins, a favorite with the audience, played acoustic guitar as he belted out the complex song, which earned mounds of praise from the judges.
    “That was a really great job,” Anderson said. “I haven’t had a chance to hear you sing and play [guitar] at the same time and that was a great package.”
    Clark, who competed several years ago as a youngster, performed the song “Mad World,” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules from the film “Donnie Darko.” He earned praise from the judges for his song selection.
    “What an interesting song choice,” Hill said. “It was a bit rockish, and yet soft and you did a very good job with it.”
    “Your voice has certainly developed from the first year you performed,” added Ketch.
    Corey, competing for the second straight year, gave a touching performance of the country song “Stealing Cinderella,” by Chuck Wicks.
    “That was a fantastic performance,” Anderson said. “I would like to see you engage your audience a bit more. Your voice tells a great story, but you need your body to match that.”    
    “You have a beautiful rich voice,” added Ketch. “And you seemed to be very relaxed on the stage. Excellent job.”
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Northern Star-dc4-ptsh-6SONG MAN — Todd Corey of Mars Hill was one of three finalists chosen to move on at Saturday’s Northern Star singing competition in Houlton Saturday. Corey belted out the tune “Stealing Cinderella,” by Chuck Wicks.

    The duo of Brenda Ellis and Darcy St. Pierre gave a rollicking performance of “Turn it Loose,” by the Judds.
    “You did a great job coming up with the look, but I expected a bit more harmony,” Hill said.
    “You two have great stage command, but I agree, with a song by the Judds you need more harmony,” Anderson added.
    Also competing during the show were:
    • Mariah Brewer, 17, of Mars Hill, who sang the a capella song, “Voice of Truth,” by Casting Crowns.
    • Brandi Kidd of Mars Hill sang “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” by Jo Dee Messina.
    • Renae Russell of Island Falls, a former finalist, sang “O’Happy Day,” from the movie “Sister Act 2.”
    • Bailey McNally, 15, of Sherman gave a soulful performance of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding. Maverick Elwell accompanied McNally on guitar.
    • Jaimie Roberts of Sherman sang “My Immortal,” by Evanescence.
    • Zachariah Harvey of Houlton performed the song “Haven’t Met You Yet,” by Michael Buble.
    • Marc Allen Fuller of Houlton sang an emotional tune “Ballad of the Green Berets,” by Barry Sadler and included a re-worked lyric to honor local soldiers.
    • Tadd Hamel of Sherman performed “Lover, Lover,” by Jerrod Niemann.
    • Shelby Sabatis, 14, of Houlton sang “More Like Her,” by Miranda Lambert.
    • Helene Thompson, 16, of Patten sang “My Immortal,” by Evanescence.
    • James J. Ivers of Patten closed out the solo portion of the show with his toe-tapping rendition of “House is Rockin’,” by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
    In the group/duo competition, Kidd and Corey teamed up to sing the tune “I Need You Now,” by Lady Antebellum.
    Since the United Way of Aroostook launched the original “Aroostook Idol” fundraiser, it has drawn more than 150 competitors to the stage. It also has raised more than $150,000 to benefit agencies funded by the United Way in Aroostook County. For more information on the “Northern Star” competition, contact the United Way of Aroostook at 207-764-5197.