Hundreds of middle and high school students will put their talent and nerve to the test this week as they audition for a chance to become Chippewa Valley Schools’ next District Idol.
Inspired by the popular American Idol reality TV show, District Idol and District Idol Jr. is returning to this year to find the district’s newest singing sensations.
“The audition phase takes place right here in Dakota’s choir rooms before a panel of three judges brought in from outside the district,” said Todd Moses, Dakota choir teacher. “The students audition a cappella and it’s just them and the judges. They choose their own song, the judges listen and give feedback and those selected (for the next round) get a golden ticket.”
In an effort to level the playing field, two separate competitions are held – District Idol Jr. for the middle school singers and District Idol for those at the high school level.
“It comes down to voice quality, talent and ability,” Moses said. “There’s such a difference in younger students and older students that for them to be able to compete fairly, they should compete more against the commonality of their traits.”
Some 100 middle and 30 high school students auditioned for last year’s competition, but as last year also marked the competition’s first stint in the district, Moses said he expects a significantly larger audition pool in 2012.
Both auditions will be held Jan. 12 from 4-7 p.m. in the Dakota choir rooms, with middle school registration between 4-5 p.m. and high school from 6-7 p.m. No advance signup is required, but there is a $1 audition fee – $1 for one minute with the judges.
To ensure complete fairness during the audition process, Moses has selected three professionals outside Chippewa Valley Schools to serve as judges.
Deena Shields-Heilig is a professional singer in a Detroit Metropolitan jazz ensemble, while Christy Kreidler is an experienced soloist who in addition to a wide variety of theatrical roles, has sung professionally for special occasions and community events for some 30 years. The third judge, Jeff Hinkle, has been a singer at Walt Disney World, a professional church cantor, teacher at Romeo High School, director at Macomb Community College and a clinician of various singing competitions.
While the judges are responsible for passing students to the final round, the competition itself is decided by audience votes.
On the evening of the live performance, every audience member is given a scantron ballot on which to vote for their top two performers. The ballots are tallied electronically that same night and the top three performers awarded trophies, with first place also receiving a monetary award.
“If they are selected to be in the competition portion, or if they win one of the top three slots, it’s truly an accomplishment on their part,” Moses said. “A lot of students who audition are ones already in the performing arts and they are always looking for different avenues and events to broaden their experience.”
One of these students is 2011 Idol winner Cassady Temple, now a junior at Dakota.
“I’ve wanted to audition for the real American Idol since I was really little, so when I first heard about the Chippewa competition, I knew I had to get out there,” Temple said.
As the current Idol, Temple will be a guest performer during this year’s Idol show on Jan. 23. Likewise her junior counterpart, seventh grader Ashley DeBeaussaert, will perform during the Idol Jr. show on Jan. 24.
A fund-raiser for the Dakota and Seneca choral departments, admission to either show is $8. The competitions are held on their respective dates at 7 p.m. in the Dakota auditorium.