By Natalie De La Garza
CARIBOU — For ten years now, Northern Star (formerly Aroostook Idol) has been a big hit in The County amd this year’s winner competed in the very first show, ten years ago.
Van Buren’s Megan Ouellette first graced the stage singing the song “Big Time” by Peter Garbriel, and ten years later her performance of the song “He Loves 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 Claire, N.B.
There was no confusion, however, that the 2014 Northern Star was touched to be named the winner of the Feb. 23 competition.
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.
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.
Nick Lunn of Hodgdon and Amira Abouleish of Houlton performed third; the pair selected the song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.
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.
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.
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 panel of experts.
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 Cadillacs.” Judge Ouellette told her that she has a bright singing future ahead of her.
Deschene sang the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” for the audience, and Judge Charles expressed how much she loved that song.
Lunn performed the song “So Close,” for his solo, and impressed the judges.
Hebert performed the song “Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood
Megan Ouellette sang the song “He Loves to Make Me Cry” for the solo portion, and the performance left an impression on the judges.
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.
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.