Idol XII singers deliver

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FRACKVILLE - It was a shorter list of entries than normal for this year's Schuylkill County Idol XII, but the contestants showed everyone on July 1 that there was no shortage of talent as they took to the stage at the Schuylkill Mall.

The 12th edition of the popular local competition based on the TV series "American Idol" was held at center court, with the audience enjoying singers of many musical styles and waiting to hear what each new performance would bring. There were 12 contestants registered, with 11 attending to compete.

Mall property Manager Elaine Maneval welcomed everyone to the program.

"The competition continues on Tuesdays during the month of July starting each night at 6 p.m.," Maneval said. "The judges are going to be narrowing our field to 10 this evening, who will compete next week. The field will be narrowed to six, then down to our final three, who will perform on July 22 when the winner will be chosen."

She explained that each contestant is judged on a scale of one to 10 in four categories: stage presence, technical ability, showmanship and overall performance.

Maneval thanked Pepsi and the Frackville Rotary Club for their sponsorship. Representatives from Schuylkill United Way and the Girl Scouts were on hand accepting donations of school supplies for the Stuff the Bus project.

The first performance was not an entry but rather an encore from Autumn Maurer, Ashland, who won last year's Schuylkill County Idol XI.

While most of the performers, who ranged in age from 16 to 30, used background music from CDs, some showed their instrumental talents on guitars to accompany themselves, and one sang a cappella.

Seated near the stage area were judges Jeff Buchanan, Kim Russell Seibert and Allison Kline, who assigned points to performances and critiqued each singer when they completed his or her performance.

The top 10 winners are: Ryan Wilkinson, 29, of Schuylkill Haven; Justine Ellis, 20, of Pottsville; Joshua Donley, 16, of Pottsville; Austin Welch, 19, of Shenandoah; Bryel Frasch, 16, of Ashland; Joe Carney, 30, of Tamaqua; Fransheska Cruz, 30, of Shenandoah; Richard Harper, 21, of Cumbola; Cody Wiley, 24, of Pottsville; and Kelly Ann Bensinger, 24, of Valley View.

The next round will include each performer singing one solo song and a duet with another contestant. They were directed to pick a partner to sing with and each will be judged individually in the duet.

The winner in the final round will receive a $1,000 mall shopping spree, $100 Bon-Ton gift certificate, a professional studio photo shoot courtesy of Michael's Photography in Frackville, a $50 gift certificate courtesy of Mustard Seed Mercantile, a Kmart gift card, a gift courtesy of Avon, Gertrude Hawk chocolate and a performance at the Schuylkill County Fair on Aug. 2.

The next Idol round was to be held July 8.

(Details of that round were unavailable prior to press production.)

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