Megan Ouellette named 2014 Northern Star

10 years ago

Megan Ouellette named 2014 Northern Star

By Natalie De La Garza
Staff Writer

    CARIBOU — For 10 years, Northern Star (formerly Aroostook Idol) has been a big hit in The County and this year’s winner competed in the very first show.

Aroostook Republican photos/Natalie De La Garza

    Jay Nelson of Caribou, at left, and Megan Ouellette of Van Buren sang “Rolling in the Deep” as sung by the cast of the TV show “Glee” during the Northern Star finale on Feb. 23; Ouellette went on to win the show.

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    Dan Rooney, at left, and Josh Doughty, both of Presque Isle, were last year’s winning group act for the Northern Star competition. The two performed the song “Higher” by Creed during the Northern Star finale.

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    Van Buren’s Megan Ouellette first graced the stage with the song “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel, and 10 years later her performance of the song “He Love To Make Me Cry” by Kristen Kelly convinced the crowds that it was time to make Ouellette the 2014 Northern Star.
    Megan Ouellette won the Northern Star competition two years ago, but it’s not the same Megan; this year’s winner is a nursing student at Northern Maine Community College who hails from Van Buren, and the 2012 Northern Star Megan Ouellette is from Clair, N.B.
    There was no confusion, however, that the 2014 Northern Star was touched to be named the winner of the Feb. 23 competition.
    “I feel teary eyed, and just blessed to win,” she said after the show’s conclusion. “There’s such amazing talent, and I’m just overwhelmed I guess.”
    After Ouellette competed in the first, it was another five years before she returned to the area and took up participating in the fundraiser once more; last year, Ouellette made it to the finale where she lost to the 2013 Northern Star Brandon Clark.
    Ouellette’s mother, Rona, was in the audience and couldn’t wait to get on stage to hug her newly titled daughter.
    “I’m elated,” she said. “She’s competed on and off for the last ten years … and I wanted her to win.”
    While Megan Ouellette won the title, the United Way was the true winner of the annual fundraiser; during the four shows featuring the talented vocalists in Aroostook County and New Brunswick this year, about $26,000 was raised to help the United Way support the region.
    The region itself was introduced to some tremendous voices through the contests, as the judges had great things to say about each and every vocalist.
    Though the audience ultimately decided who would be the Northern Star, the voting worked a little differently this year.
    The 12 advancing vocalists were paired up into six teams; each team performed a song, but paired vocalists belonged to different groups — and judges Annie Charles, Charlie Ouellette and Julie DeMaere offered their input on the paired vocalists to help the audience decide which large group would move forward.
    The first pair performing was Adam Ouellette and Indya Ouellette, both of Madawaska. They sang the song “Barton Hallow” by The Civil Wars. While the judges joked that there must be something about the last name “Ouellette” that attributed to their fantastic voices, the judges were very serious in acknowledging their vocal talents.
    “You almost blew the house down,” Charles told them, and DeMaere commented that their song choice was solid.
    Jamilynn Deschene and Justin Quinones, both of Caribou, were the second pair to perform. They sang the song “Summer Nights” as performed by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.
    “You picked a song that makes you want to think of summer — we need that right now, and I like the (song) choice,” Ouellette commented. “It brings back a lot of memories and you had a good connection with the crowd; your performance is very entertaining.”
    Nick Lunn of Hodgdon and Amira Abouleish of Houlton performed third; the pair selected the song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.
    “You guys are really good together,” Ouellette said. “I like the way you harmonize very well, and the way that you entertain the crowd — you’re not just standing there singing.”
    The young duo from Fort Kent of Cady Hebert and Emily Marin selected the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, and the judges had plenty of positive things to say about the performance.
    “I have to tell you, when I heard (your coach) say you were doing the song ‘Beautiful,’ I thought ‘oh, that’s a really big song for two little girls,’” DeMaere said, “but you handled it. It was great.”
    Megan Ouellette of Van Buren and Jay Nelson of Caribou performed the song “Rolling in the Deep,” as sung by the cast of the TV show “Glee,” and their performance made DeMaere very pleased that she didn’t have to make a decision.
    “You made me think I was at a Broadway play or something,” said Charles about their powerful performance.
    Concluding the team efforts were Dan Rooney of Presque Isle and Kristen Mazur of Linneus with their performance of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters And Men, and their high-energy performance pleased the experts.
    “You looked like you were having a lot of fun — especially you,” she said to Rooney, who hadn’t been shy about dancing around to the music. “It’s a hard song, at least it seemed to me, but you did a wonderful job pulling it off.”
    The audience selected the pre-determined large group of Indya Ouellette, Jamilynn Deschene, Nick Lunn, Cady Hebert, Megan Ouellette and Kristen Mazur to advance to the solo round. Contestants Adam Ouellette, Justin Quinones, Amira Abouleish, Emily Martin, Jay Nelson and Dan Rooney did not have an opportunity to compete in the solo portion of the contest, though all contestants agreed to allow Abouleish to perform her song in memory of her grandfather, who’d passed away a few days before the performance.
    Indya Ouellette kicked off the solo round with the song “Two Black Cadillac’s.” Judge Ouellette told her that she has a bright singing future ahead of her.
    “You’ve got a lot of power in your voice that’s really great,” he said.
    Deschene sang the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” for the audience, and Judge Charles expressed how much she loved that song.
    “You did a wonderful job with it,” Charles told Deschene, “outstanding.”
    Nick Lunn performed the song “So Close,” for his solo, and impressed the judges.
    “To be able to stay up in that register for that long is really impressive — I’m really impressed by your voice,” Ouellette said. “Very good.”
    Hebert performed the song “Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood and event co-host Jason Parent commented even before the judges could.
    “Like they said up in Fort Kent, that’s a 10-gallon voice in a pint-sized container,” he said. The judges agreed.
    “I love the tone of your voice,” DeMaere said. “I still can’t believe that it’s coming out of a 12-year-old body, but I like the tone, and you have that little break that you do when you change your register — and I like that.”
    Megan Ouellette sang the song “He Loves to Make Me Cry” for the solo portion, and the performance left an impression on the judges.
    “There are times when people with big powerful voices like yours tend to push it and they get scratchy — you don’t do that,” DeMaere said. “You have power behind everything you sing and you did a really great job.”
    Mazur sang “Proud Mary” for her solo, and the judges were rolling on the river right along with her — Charles even commented that she thought Mazur was going to break out some of those iconic Tina Turner moves during the performance.
    “When I asked you in Houlton if you’d sung before, you said ‘in the shower,’” DeMaere recalled. “I think it’s really sad that you didn’t let people hear this before — you’re awesome.”
    Just around 650 attendees filled the CPAC auditorium for the final show. Additional information about the United Way of Aroostook County can be obtained by visiting UnitedWayAroostook.org.