The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Entertainment

May 23, 2013

Singers vie for Idol All-In prize

ANDERSON, Ind. — Indiana’s got talent. There was no doubt about that on May 16 when Hoosier Park hosted the semifinal competition of its Idol All-In contest.

Nine people made it to the semifinals, all vying for a $2,500 cash prize, plus a studio recording session and a gig at Hoosier Park. Three are now left to battle it out tomorrow.

“Pretty darned impressive,” Michelle Belle Cook described the field of candidates that made it to the semifinals. Cook, of professional country singing duo Cook and Belle, is one of the competition’s judges. “These are some of the best singers in East Central Indiana.”

The competitors each delivered knock-out performances in a variety of genres. They included Casey James, of Henderson, Ky.; Anderson University  student Layke Jones of Anderson; Michael Thomas of Indianapolis; Lapel’s Lisa Ray;  Amy Brooks from Warren;  AU student Hailey Earp from St. Joseph, Ill.; Shelby Jones of Greenwood; Rena Cunningham from Indianapolis and Tyler Stuart from Westville.

The judges narrowed the field of competitors down to nine semi-finalists during three evenings of live auditions, when they listened to more than 75 aspiring singers. Cook, along with Anderson artist development professional Mark Pay and Gaither Studio sound engineer Chad Evans evaluated  vocal ability, stage presence and marketability in determining who advanced in the competition.

The judges conceded that it was indeed a difficult selection among the semi-finalists. In the end, the three finalists were Lisa Ray, Rena Cunningham, and Michael Thomas.

Lisa Ray, 40, of Lapel, gave a strong performance of “Chrome Plated Heart” by Melissa Etheridge, packed with stage presence and great vocals.

“This is as good as anything you’re going to see out there,” said judge Mark Pay. Cook compared her sound to Bonnie Tyler’s.

“I’ve been singing since I was five years old on the back porch of my grandma’s Kentucky home — ‘Yes, Jesus Loves Me’,” said Ray. “I love it. It’s definitely my emotional outlet.”  

The mother of two works in the finance department at an Anderson medical facility. If she wins, Ray knows just what she’ll do. “I’ve always wanted one of those Roland pianos with recording capabilities. ... I’d start writing music again.”

Rena Cunningham, 23, of Indianapolis, was right at home on the stage as she sang a compelling, slow arrangement of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley that wowed the crowd. As a soldier in the Army, Cunningham toured for a year performing with “The Soldier Show’” in Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States.

She left active duty in December, and now serves in the Indiana National Guard as a supply sergeant.

“I just love singing,” said Cunningham. She’s looking forward to Saturday’s competition performance. “I just think about getting on stage and doing my best.”

Michael Thomas also sang “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, but it was an entirely different performance. Dressed in bright red pants and a red plaid shirt, Thomas seized the stage giving a rendition true to the tune.

“I love your range, it’s crazy high. What a great, great talent,” said Pay.

Thomas, 27, grew up in Anderson, and now resides in Indianapolis where he attends Ivy Tech.

“I love music. I record and write a lot of music for all genres,” said Thomas. As comfortable as he was on stage, Thomas said, “I’ve grown up singing in the church, that’s really the biggest influence.”

The three semi-finalists will perform tomorrow night at Hoosier Park. It coincides with the 20th running of the Dan Patch Invitational race activities at the venue, complete with hot air balloon, fireworks, ziplining and more. The Idol All-In competition is set for 10:30 p.m. The second runner-up goes home with a $500 cash prize. First runner-up receives $1,000.

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.

1
Text Only
Entertainment
  • South Madison offers 'cyber safety' program for parents From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Tmbler, the list of social media websites is long and seems to grow almost daily.

    April 25, 2014

  • City to celebrate Earth Day After a one-year hiatus, the celebration of Earth Day in Anderson will take place at Shadyside Memorial Park this Saturday.

    April 24, 2014

  • NWS - HB0425 - Block Party - JC 2 Learning block by block More than 45 toddlers and parents came to the Pendleton Public Library on Thursday to play with blocks. Although that seems like a fairly normal, everyday activity, the children were learning skills that will help them down the road.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS - HB0425 - garfinkel exhibit - 02 Center for the Arts opens vibrant exhibit

    A layover in Japan more than three decades ago changed the course of New York-based artist Gloria Garfinkel’s work for the rest of her life. The Anderson Center for the Arts opened its latest exhibit featuring Garfinkel’s work Wednesday, and it will run until June 13.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Weekend Calendar: April 25 Entertainment scheduled at area venues for April 25-27.

    April 24, 2014

  • Live music: April 25 The following listings for live music and other entertainment at area venues are published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 24, 2014

  • Rivers refuses to apologize to women held captive

    Joan Rivers refuses to apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity of three women kidnapped in Cleveland.

    April 24, 2014

  • Hospital's ER Department plans annual golf tournament Community Hospital Anderson’s Emergency Department will host its 12th annual golf tournament on Friday, June 20, at The Edge golf course. The Florida-style scramble will begin with a Lifeline helicopter liftoff at 1 p.m.

    April 24, 2014

  • FEA HB0424 Bids for Kids Bears - April 2014 Annual Bids for Kids auction starts Friday

    Breaking the cycle of child abuse is one of the most difficult things to do, but the people of Madison County aren’t ready to give up trying.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Spotlight on the kids When pianist Nathan Cook started volunteering for the special education program at Anderson High School, he started mulling over ideas how he could do more to help.

    April 23, 2014