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19 vie in 'Washington County Teen Idol' competition at The Maryland Theatre

April 14, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - Shayna Beard summed up the mood of 19 young singers Saturday night when she stepped onto the stage of The Maryland Theatre in jeans and a bustier and belted out "A Moment Like This."

"Oh, I can't believe it's happening to me. Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this," the song goes.

"I think it's just a powerful, meaningful song," said Beard, 16, of Thurmont, Md. "To stand on that stage and sing is just like, 'Look what I'm doing.' It's a really, really, really good opportunity just to give me more experience."

Beard competed in the second annual Washington County Teen Idol contest, sponsored by the Washington County Free Library and The Maryland Theatre.

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Besides gaining experience, contestants vied for a chance at a $1,000 first-place prize. Many of the singers said if they won, they would use the money to help pay for a trip to New York City to audition for "American Idol."

Contestants such as Rachel Quinn, 15, of Waynesboro, Pa., and Braden Myers, 19, of Williamsport, said they would audition for the show whether or not they won Saturday.

Lisa Key, teen activities coordinator for the library, said the Teen Advisory Board came up with the idea of a competitive performance program for youth.

"We did a couple open mic nights and I said, 'We are thinking too small,'" Key said. "With the popularity of 'American Idol,' we decided to do a 'Teen Idol.'"

Hot Soup singer Jennie Avila, Maryland Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Andrew Kipe and actor/director Jeff Wine judged the competition.

Ruth Curry, a member of the Teen Idol committee, said the show would follow the "American Idol" format, with judges providing personal feedback after each performance.

"Only they won't be as brutal as Simon or as loving as Paula," Curry said in reference to the "American Idol" judges.

"A little pitchy" seemed to be the polite phrase to describe tone problems, and the judges did express enthusiasm for certain acts.

After 18-year-old Natalie Stephenson's performance of a self-penned song, Kipe said, "It takes guts to sing something you wrote yourself, and you really knocked it out. Good job."

Wine was on board, too, saying, "God! Great singer, great songwriter. So far, the best of the night."

Erin Spring, 16, a student at Boonsboro High School, won the competition. Christine Edmond, 17, a student at Hagerstown Community College, placed second.

"There is so much talent in the youth of this area," said Jenni Hatcher, acting executive director of The Maryland Theatre. "It's wonderful to provide a stage so they can dream a little bit and so the public can get to see them."

Rap artist Spencer "Lil' Spence" Morgan, Washington County Teen Idol 2007 Lawren Hill and Williamsport-based band Steel also provided entertainment.

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