I was very curious to hear the teens sing at the 10th Annual Hear My Voice Teen Idol Competition sponsored by the Columbia Association Youth and Teen Center (YTC) and held at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront on Lake Kittamaqundi. I had gone to several Teen Open Mic Nights during the summer, and some of those teens were really good. I wanted to see what happened when it was a competition among the teens who were singing for the title (and the money)!
First, we all got lucky with the weather. It was a gorgeous day on the 14th of October. The event started out at 3 p.m. with the local teen band, Black Pool Holiday. After their hour set, Sharod Hogue (18), an interpretive dancer, performed a piece for the crowd. These artists were fun to watch and very talented.
At 4 p.m. the big event began: the finals of the 2012 Hear My Voice Teen Idol Competition. There were 10 finalists from the pool of 33 contestants, all Howard County residents, competing for the grand prize of $500 and three months of private lessons from Columbia School of Rock. That’s a pretty nice prize package for an amateur competition. These teens had auditioned, made it through the semifinals (21 performers) and were now ready for the big event.
This year’s finalists, in performance order were: Keaira Maynor, Millan Bhatt, Maya Shapiro, Mea Agazio, Maggie Medoff, Kiessence Polk, Blair Waters, Miranda Judd, Joey Haavik and Christina Schumacher. The hosts for the show were Kevin Baker, who is a member of the YTC Middle School Advisory Committee, and Safire Windley, YTC program coordinator.
Most of the show was put on by teens. What great opportunities for all of them.
This is a competition though, not just a show. The judges this year were: celebrity guest judge: Maurette Brown Clark (award-winning gospel artist), 2011 Columbia Teen Idol winner Montria Walker; and community judges: Shelly Wilson (gospel singer), Cat Stratakis (vocal coach and performer) and Silvie Damskey (vocal and dance instructor).
While this was the third time in this competition these teens were being judged on their performances, this was the finals, and I was impressed with their poise and their confidence. I remember being a teenager. That is a time kids don’t like being singled out. I also have a teenage son, and there is no way he would voluntarily put himself on a stage, and he definitely wouldn’t want to be judged on his performance. Yet, here were these teens doing it — and doing it great.
What I know as a parent, though, is that this isn’t just about winning a prize. It is also about putting yourself out there and going for something. It’s about being critiqued. It’s about facing your fears and it’s about making mistakes, dealing with them and moving on. In an age when kids can get prizes for just showing up, this was a friendly competition that taught the teens some valuable life lessons, but in a supportive environment.
The winner of the event this year, winning $500 and three months of voice lessons, was Kiessence Polk, who sang “Encourage Yourself” by gospel artist Donald Lawrence. The runner-up, receiving three months of voice lessons as a prize, was Millan Bhatt, who sang “Imagine” by John Lennon. The People’s Choice winner, also winning three months of voice lessons, was Keaira Maynor, who sang “Ave Maria” by Beyonce.
I congratulate all the teens who were part of this competition. You have a lot to be proud of. And I congratulate the YTC for a great event. Want to see photos all the performers in the finals? Check out this slideshow.
Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.