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HCC student wins Teen Idol 2011 competition

March 27, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com

HAGERSTOWN — His talent was unquestionable.

His delivery, impeccable.

But Devin Fields’ performance left judges unsure of one thing.

“Why did you think you were not going to get called back?”

This was the question posed by contest judge Jeff Wine Saturday night following Fields’ rendition of Leonard Cohen’s widely recorded rock ballad “Hallelujah.”

Fields, 19, of Chambersburg, Pa., was one of 20 finalists competing in Teen Idol 2011.

Washington County Free Library, The Maryland Theatre and After Five Productions presented the event.

As Fields searched for an answer in front of the 600-plus-member audience, Wine let him off the hook.

“You don’t have to answer that,” Wine said. “But your vocals, your dynamics, the feeling you put into that was awesome.”

Fields, a student at Hagerstown Community College, said during recorded video footage played prior to his performance that he didn’t really expect to get called back as a finalist after his audition. He not only got called back as a top-20 finalist, but made it to the top five, and ultimately took first place in the competition, earning a $1,000 prize.

Event organizers chose 19 finalists after young hopefuls, ages 15 through 19, auditioned at Valley Mall and Port City Java in Long Meadow Shopping Center in mid-February. One finalist, Ryan Baker, 17, a student at Washington County Technical High School, won a place in the finals by receiving the most votes in a Facebook contest that was added to the competition this year.

Fields’ performance Saturday evening came late in a succession of robust talent. He was the 17th contestant, following a dramatic array of performances covering a variety of genres. Library Circulation Manager and Teen Idol coordinator Lisa Key said participation has steadily increased since the competition began five years ago.

“Our first year we had 20 audition, so we took them all,” Key said. “This year we had a record of 75 young people auditioning. So the level of talent has become very competitive.”

Despite the viable acts preceding him, Fields managed to take the competition to another level.

Pairing a black suit, purple shirt and white tie with a winsome smile and laid-back attitude, Fields seemed to win over the already enthusiastic audience before he even sang. He talked them up, commending the other acts, before ripping into his rugged, yet pitch-perfect performance. He played guitar while working his vocals from a whisper to a soulful yell, and much in between. His second number, Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight,” was equally skillful and stirring.

Fields said his win was especially sweet because his grandfather was at the theater watching him.

“My pap is my closest friend. He told me he came to The Maryland Theatre 30 years ago to see Tommy James and the Shondells,” Fields said. “Tonight he came back to see me. It’s crazy.”

Taking second place and a $500 prize was Whitney Blickenstaff, 17, a student at Clear Spring High School. Blickenstaff, who also placed in the top five in last year’s competition, stood out from the crowd with her first piece, “Orange Colored Sky.” She donned a bright orange, satin gown and crooned playfully in a nod to Natalie Cole.

Blickenstaff went on to prove her range with her top-five performance, playing guitar and singing her folksy original composition, “In Your Eyes.”

“I think this is a great competition because it gives kids a chance to shine and to give their hearts to the one thing they love,” Blickenstaff said.

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