Hopeful musicians strut their stuff at Paramount Idol

Singer-songwriter Erin Lunsford will compete for the $1000 prize at Paramount Idol. Publicity photo. Singer-songwriter Erin Lunsford will compete for the $1000 prize at Paramount Idol. Publicity photo.

“American Idol” and “The Voice” are reality T.V. chart-busters, but everyone knows these shows are more fun to watch when you know someone on screen. Music fans of all genres can get their rising star fix on May 17 as the Paramount Theater wraps up the second season of its own singing competition, Paramount Idol.

After more than 200 auditions this spring, ten finalists have been selected to battle it out onstage for the audience’s votes. The winners will receive cash prizes, professionally recorded demo sessions and one fan favorite will win a career consultation with Red Light Management

This year’s top ten represent a wide range of musical genres and the audience is sure to hear familiar covers from the list of contestant song selections provided by the competition’s organizers.

Blues and rock fans can look forward to Erin Lunsford’s interpretations of legends Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Franklin will also get a jazzier treatment from Massachusetts-native Adar Seligman-McComas.

Isaac Griswold is excited to “sing the country genre and hopefully represent it well” with his rendition of Blake Shelton’s “Nobody But Me.” Ann Hudnall will croon the classic country tune, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.

Kim Riley is equally passionate about contemporary gospel and soul. She especially looks forward to singing Patti Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade.” The aptly named Frank Song, Jr. shares Riley’s love for “big sounding songs” that allow him to show off his classical operatic training, like his song choice “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele.

Top 40 hits and classic pop-rock will be represented by Lawton Tufts performing Maroon 5 and Gary White singing “Yesterday” by The Beatles. “[Yesterday is] a very simple song and that’s where its beauty lies,” White said.

White is among the finalists with more musical experience, having auditioned for industry titan “American Idol.” During his audition for the popular television show, he had about 10 to 15 seconds to sing, while Paramount Idol afforded all contestants the chance to sing a full song. “At American Idol, they don’t pay much attention to you,” White said. He much preferred the more intimate setting of Paramount Idol.

While the finalists have varied styles and different backgrounds, they all agree on the talent of their peers and the humbling experience of making it this far. “We started and every single person…I was completely blown away by,” Song said. Griswold agreed, “The competition was fierce.” Lunsford was particularly worried, having lost her voice before auditions, and she stood in line, “assuming I wasn’t gonna get anywhere.”

After the judges’ individual attention and constructive feedback, the finalists set their sights on the audience’s votes this Friday and everyone is excited about a different aspect of the performance. Tufts is eager to have the “exposure in the musical community and to be making connections,” while White said, “I love to sing in a really cool space and I’m mostly excited to perform in the Paramount.”

Lunsford is particularly thrilled to have a chance at a management consultation. “Right now at this point in my career, I’m looking for guidance, I’m looking for opportunities, and Paramount Idol is one of those rare and exciting opportunities,” Lunsford said. “Also, I’m a broke musician and $1000 would really help with rent.”

All ten finalists will perform on the Paramount stage Friday, May 17 at 6:30pm. Tickets are available online and at the box office for $10. ~Danielle Bricker