WAKEFIELD — The seventh season of Wakefield Idol started strong last Thursday night with stunning performances from contestants.
The local karaoke-style singing competition, which welcomes local community members from all walks of life to come sing their hearts out, saw many familiar faces.
Notably, returning to the stage for the fourth year in a row, St. George’s Academy junior Brady Lyons wowed audience members with her performance of Nora Jones’ “I Don’t Know Why.” The slow, sultry song, allowed Lyons to show off her vocal range and also earned her the highest score from the judges that evening.
It’s a softer song selection than some of her past performance choices, according to Wakefield Idol Host Christopher Simpson, but Lyons’ decision to kick off her fourth run with a more mellow tune did not disappoint.
Not only was the song masterfully executed, but Lyons was able to breathe in some of her own unique flares and add a few noticeable tweaks to the original track.
Lyons had advanced nicely last season, but unfortunately, due to a theater performance, she was forced to miss a night of the competition. She returned last week with another year of experience under her belt and had a strong start to the season.
Also giving an excellent performance that night was season ticket holder Allison Burnap, who blew the crowd away with her daring performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Friends and complete strangers alike whooped and cheered as Burnap stepped off stage and roamed around the room — even crawling into a few laps.
Elyssa Bouressa, who’s been judging Wakefield Idol since season one, agreed with the audience’s enthusiastic approvals. Burnap’s song choice wasn’t only a crowd-pleaser, she said, but it fit Burnap’s vocal ability perfectly. That, paired with her interaction with the audience, made for an incredible performance.
“I’ve never seen anyone stand on round one of all of the years we’ve been doing this,” Bouressa said. “You nailed it.”
Judge and Take It To the Bridge lead vocalist Colby Geaber told Burnap he was “very bummed” to only be judging one night of the competition after watching her performance.
“I want to say you owned the stage, but you owned the entire room,” Geaber told her.
Even though the audience was filled with friendly, familiar faces, there were plenty of people Burnap didn’t know, Geaber said, and he applauded her gutsy performance. For those who didn’t know her before, he said, they sure know her now.
Performing last that evening, but certainly not least, Katrina Bourget of West Warwick brought the house down with her performance of “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. Audience members jumped out of their seats to give her a standing ovation and judges were left speechless after the final note.
Geaber and Bouressa said they both had goosebumps.
In addition to those who signed up well in advance to perform that night, there were also two brave souls who signed up on the spur of the moment.
“One of my absolute favorite things that happens at Wakefield Idol during the audition rounds is sometimes a brave audience member — or someone with a bunch of brave friends around them, goating and egging them on — will stand up and say, ‘I wanna try,’” Simpson said.
Joining the competition while watching the live stream video from Phil’s Main Street Grille next door, was returning contestant Melissa Kroll who came back to the stage with “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert.
Although she did not advance to the second round, fellow restaurant-goer Boulo, was invited back. The Boston resident who’d been having dinner with his girlfriend hopped on stage in front of a crowd of strangers and surprised judges with a song neither of them had ever heard before — “Bambi” by Jidenna.
Despite not having any time to practice, Boulo still owned the stage, moving around and jumping up and down the entire time. By the end of the song, he was covered in sweat.
In addition to Lyons, a few fellow high school students will also be filling out the second round roster.
South Kingstown High School senior Jess Macinanti took center stage with “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” by Panic! At the Disco. The pop-punk band has been a long-time favorite of Macinanti’s — who when first auditioning for Wakefield Idol at 13-years-old, also chose a Panic! At the Disco song.
Macinanti’s song choice helped advance her through to the next round, then, and has now earned her a spot in the second round on Jan. 23.
Narragansett High School student Mackenzie Killilea, 15, will also be moving on to the second round after impressing judges with her take on Bruno Mars’ “Talking To the Moon.” Compared to some of her past performances, Bouressa said Killiea’s voice has grown by leaps and bounds.
“Vocally, you have come light-years from where you began your Wakefield Idol journey,” Bouressa said.
A fourth high school student will also be advancing alongside them. Bristol resident and Met School junior Maya Leone chose to perform a much more recent hit than some of her fellow contestants, going with “Bellyache” by Billie Eilish.
Those who will not be returning, unfortunately, include Foster resident Emily Schmidt, East Greenwich resident Michaela Diane Clapp and South Kingstown’s own Ted Sorlein.
Schmidt, who opened the season with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” loosened up and engaged more with the audience over the course of her performance. Audience members clapped along and cheered on the newcomer as she sang along to what judges called “a great song choice.” The only piece of constructive advice they offered afterward had been perhaps choosing a song without such long instrumental lulls.
Clapp returned to the stage last Thursday night with “a song by a dude,” per the recommendation of the judges when she last performed for the title of Wakefield Idol several years ago. This time, she performed Rufus Wainwright’s extremely challenging number, “Hallelujah.”