PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Faithful fans of the past four Aroostook Idol competitions will see familiar faces when they come to this year’s shows.
This year, the winners from the previous four years will return to help the audience judge who will be this year’s Aroostook Idol.
The United Way of Aroostook County will sponsor the fifth annual Aroostook Idol competition. The initiative is a spin-off of the popular Fox TV series “American Idol.”
The UWA holds three shows — one each in southern, central and northern Aroostook — and one winner from each region goes on to compete in the March finale.
This year’s competitions will begin earlier than in past years. The first show is planned for southern Aroostook at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at the Houlton High School Auditorium.
Productions will be held the next two Fridays — in the St. John Valley at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 in the Fox Auditorium at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Presque Isle Middle School Auditorium.
“The applications are starting to come in, particularly from central Aroostook,” Claudia Stevens, executive director of the UWA, said Monday. “We are excited about that, but we still need applications from the south and the north, so we are encouraging people in those areas to send in their applications.”
Applications for competing in a regional show are available at all Aroostook County KeyBank branches and on the United Way of Aroostook Web site at www.unitedwayaroostook.org.
Money raised from the singing competition goes toward the UWA’s annual campaign to support local agencies working to help the most needy people throughout The County.
Over the past four years, all of the Aroostook Idol finale winners have been female — Renee Cavagnaro of Caribou took the crown in 2005, and Samantha Boutot, then a student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, won the title in 2006. In 2007, Annie Charles, a defense finance and accounting service worker from Limestone, won the competition, and Erin Buck of Caribou was crowned Aroostook Idol last year.
Stevens said the idea for the change in judges came about when the UWA sponsored an “Aroostook Idol Reunion” show last year.
In the past, three judges from a wide variety of locations and occupations have been giving their opinions of the singers and offered pointers on how they could enhance their performances. The audience then voted for a winner.
During the inaugural reunion show, held in October at the Caribou Performing Arts Center, some of the top performers from the past came together to sing with the four Aroostook Idol winners.
“We were talking about how it would be great to make some changes to the competition this year, and this was what came out of that discussion,” said Stevens. “This year, our former Idols will serve as the judges and provide commentary after each singer performs. The audience will still get to decide who moves on with their vote, and can take or leave the advice of the judges, but we figured who better to comment on the performance of our contestants than those who know all too well what it is like to be in their shoes.”
Another change to the coming Aroostook Idol season is the lowered age requirement for participation from 13 to 12 years old.
The winners from each of the regional shows will advance to the finale, which will be held at CPAC in March. That is when a new Idol will be crowned.
Last year’s Idol competition raised more than $28,000 for the UWA, and similar amounts have been raised in previous years.
Stevens said she is excited for this year’s competition.
“We have a lot of talent here in The County, and our show also proves it,” she said.
For more information about Aroostook Idol, call the UWA at 764-5197.