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Monday, February 18, 2008

Looking for the next Geneva Idol

By Kayla Bunge/The Janesville Gazette

Up-and-coming local performers will belt it out under a bright spotlight as they compete for the chance to record a demo CD and be heard on the radio.

Modeled after the insanely popular television show American Idol, the Geneva Idol contest gives 30 local singers a chance to showcase their skills--and often a springboard to audition for the real thing.

The deadline for entering this year's competition is Feb. 29.

"We have such amazing local talent," said Nancy Douglass, general manager of Lake 96.1 FM and coordinator of Geneva Idol.

Past contestants have also competed in other local Idol-like contests, and some have gone on to audition for American Idol and similar reality television shows.

Geneva Idol draws people from all walks of life to compete for their chance to hit the big time.

"You've got 75-year-old men singing Tony Bennett to 16-year-old girls singing Carrie Underwood," Douglass said.

The contestants often are experienced performers--many are karaoke regulars--and they bring impressive vocal ability with them.

"It actually is shocking," Douglass said. "They're really charged up."

But unlike its namesake, the Geneva Idol contest doesn't have a panel of judges that includes a harsh, straight-talking Brit.

"We're too nice for that," Douglass said with a laugh.

Six judges, including the president of a local record label, a local songwriter and a past Geneva Idol winner, evaluate the contestants, but don't give an out-loud critique.

The singer crowned the 2008 Geneva Idol wins $500, a recording session at Machine Records in Lake Geneva and airtime on Lake 96.1. The second- and third-place winners receive $200 and $100, respectively. A People's Choice winner, selected by the audience, receives $50.

Douglass said the audience eats up the competition and really gets into the performances.

"Once we get started, no one really wants to get up," she said.

Sponsored by the Geneva Lakes Women's Association, the event is a major fund-raiser for local non-profit organizations. The GWLA needs to raise $3,000 this year to fill its growing number of requests for financial assistance.

Now in its fifth year, the Geneva Idol contest has proven quite successful, Douglass said. And the GWLA hopes that by moving the event up a couple months and away from the other singing contests in the area, there's more success to be had.

"It's a fabulous showcase of local talent for a great cause," she said. "It's just a lot of fun."

Contest details

--- Thirty singers will compete for a $500 cash prize, a recording session at Machine Records in Lake Geneva and airtime on Lake 96.1; the second-place winner will receive $200 and the third-place winner will receive $100.

--- All singers must be at least 16 years old.

--- Deadline to enter is Feb. 29.

--- For an entry form, call (262) 249-9600, ext. 106 or send an e-mail to genevaidol2008@yahoo.com.

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TO DO

What: Geneva Idol 2008

When: Friday, March 7; dinner at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m.

Where: Monte Carlo Room, 720 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn

Tickets: Tickets: $30 for dinner and the show; $15 for children 10 and under; $15 for the show only

Information: Call (262) 249-9600, ext. 106 or send an e-mail to genevaidol2008@yahoo.com

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