Senior Idol performers take stage with confidence and ease

January 15, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Edward G. Harne performs Saturday at the Washington County Maryland Senior Idol Contest at the First Baptist Church social hall in Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Amateur talent shows often are characterized by cagey, self-conscious young people who seem at once drawn and intimidated by a crowd.

Contestants in the Washington County Maryland Senior Idol Contest Saturday at the First Baptist Church social hall in Hagerstown countered that convention.

The nine contestants offered uninhibited performances that were bred, perhaps, of the experience and wisdom that come with age. Most of the seniors vying for the Idol title seemed to trade in awkwardness and jitters on stage for confidence and ease. They told stories, cracked jokes and thanked the crowd of more than 100 people for coming out to support them.

The Washington County Commission on Aging sponsored the event for the second time. Ruth Brown, a support specialist at the Commission on Aging and chairwoman of the event, said the county's first Senior Idol contest was in October 2009. There were six contestants and a lot of positive feedback, so the group decided to have it again this year.

"First of all, Washington County's seniors have talent," Brown said. "This shows their vitality, and they have a lot of fun. It's a really neat thing to do."

William R. Divelbiss of Hagerstown opened the show with his performance of "It Is No Secret." Ellis Duffey, Mike Cunningham, Edward G. Harne, and Robert L. Burnett followed up with country and inspirational numbers. Following the first verse of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," Harne gave direction to the sound person.

"It's gotta come up. You gotta bring up that monitor. I can't hear myself," Harne said.

He then proceeded to pick up his song without missing a beat.

Barbara Perrott of Clear Spring took to the stage looking demure in black slacks, flats and a sweater, but her performance belied her appearance. Perrott crooned "Your Cheatin' Heart," sashaying about the stage with a smooth cross-touch step, stopping only to shake her hips and wag her finger at the aforesaid cheater. Emcee Deborah Washington commended Perrott's vigor and playfulness.

"OK, gentlemen. I gotta say... It took a woman to know how to work the stage. And she 'worked' the stage," Washington said.

Benjamin Wyand of Hagerstown sang "The Lord's Prayer" a cappella, and Brenda C. Boyd of Hagerstown wrapped up the competition singing and swaying to "One Day at a Time."

Judges Blanton Croft, Chris Copley and Joseph Marschner evaluated contestants considering stage presence and poise; connection with the audience; song selection; voice quality; and remembering the lyrics.

Harne, 69, of Hagerstown, won the Washington County Maryland Senior Idol title. He and runner-up Rebecca J. Mills will compete March 30 at the Maryland state contest at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Md.

Harne said the Senior Idol contest is a great opportunity for older Washington County residents. He said he remembers his grandfather always talking about the things he "used to" do.

"When I was a young boy, I asked my dad, 'Why does Grandpa always talk about what he used to do?' He told me, 'Because when you get old, there's not much to do, so you talk about what you used to do,'" Harne said. "I can tell my grandkids, 'I'm doing something right now. I'm a Senior Idol.' And that should make them happy."

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