"I'm singing in the Rain" is a popular tune some sing while outside in the rain. This was true for contestants in a singing competition Thursday at the Chautauqua County Fair.
The 31st annual Texaco Country Showdown preliminary auditions sponsored by WHUG My Country 101.9 were held in the Budweiser Grandstand for a chance to move on in the competition. Seven contestants from New York and Pennsylvania did not let the rain stop them from showing off their talents.
The contestants each chose one song that was judged by three judges, Carol Cardinale, Megan DeAngelo and Ken Biringer.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Shannon Ryan performed at the 31st annual Texaco Country Showdown.
Cardinale is a retired music teacher of 32 years and spent 28 of those years at Southwestern School District. DeAngelo is the community relations director for Hospice of Chautauqua County and was looking for contestants with charisma.
"I'm looking for a good voice, a lot of energy and a lot of charisma," she said.
Biringer is the talent buyer for the Sportmen's Tavern in Buffalo. Biringer, who also judged last year for the event, was surprised there were no bands or musicians who auditioned. He said he was looking for more to audition.
"I'm disappointed we didn't have more contestants," he said.
Each contestant was able to sing a song of their choice but the song had to be country. This was the first year the preliminary auditions were held at the fair and the only preliminary auditions in Western New York.
"Mike Ferguson (of the Chautauqua County Fair) is a good friend of the radio station," Jim Yezzi, local sales manager for WHUG, said. "We think it's a great venue with the grand stand."
The first contestant to perform was Laura Pfleuger who sang "Blue" by Leann Rimes. Pfleuger who is from Forestville, said she would love to go to Nashville.
"I'm going to Nazareth (College)in the fall ... I would love to go to Nashville," she said.
Shannon Ryan of Dunkirk went next and sang "Better Things to Do" by Terri Clark. Ryan who said she has been "singing for a long time," said singing makes her happy.
"I love the response from the crowd ... I love doing (music)," Ryan said.
Singing "Gunpowder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert, Michelle Atlee Davis sang next in the competition. Davis traveled from Warren, Pa. to audition. Davis said she already finished her back up plan by getting a degree but said music is her true love.
Margie Nelsen next sang "A Broken Wing" by Martina McBride, Nelsen, who is from Randolph said she auditioned last year.
"I did this last year. I'd like to make it further than I did last year," she said.
Sierrah Rounds, the youngest contestant at the age of 12, sang an another Lambert song, "Famous in a Small Town." Rounds said she started singing in middle school. Following Rounds, Kristal Zarczynski sang "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline. Zarczynski said she has sang her whole life. Finishing the auditions was Brandan Yeskey, the only male to audition. He sang "Beer on the Table" by Josh Thompson.
Yezzi thought the turnout for the auditions was good.
"I thought it went well considering the weather," he said.
After the first round of auditions, the contestants were given the option to sing an additional song. This song was not judged and was just for fun. The final decision on who advances to the local auditions is set to be announced on WHUG this morning between 6 and 9 a.m. A listing will also be available on their website at www.whug.com.
Those who move on from Thursday's auditions will perform at the local auditions on Aug. 5 at the Village Casino in Bemus Point. From there, contestants who move on will move to the state finals in Washingtonville later in August. Those who go on from that level of competition have a chance to travel to Nashville for a chance to compete for $100,000. The national finals are televised and have seen famous contestants such as Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley and Rimes.
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