RUMFORD — Fourteen children and six adults auditioned their singing talents on Saturday for a chance to perform later that night in the fourth annual Voices of the Valley competition at Mountain Valley High School.
Their performances before judges Tammy Schmersal-Burgess, Bob Bohren, Nancy DeMilner-Deming and Hugh Rowley revealed a variety of talents, promising another good evening show.
Daniel Richard, chairman of the Rumford Park and Recreation Commission, ran the sound system, playing supplied music for all but one youth who performed a cappella.
Ten-year-old Abby Blauvelt of Rumford sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” leaving one to wonder from where in her diminutive body she was drawing the energy to bang out the high notes.
Fourteen-year-old Morgan O'Neil-Gordon of Rumford, who performs once a month at Cafe Nomad's Teen Open Mic show in Norway, brimmed with jazzy attitude in her rendition of “Roxie” from the musical “Chicago.”
Twelve-year-old Kassie Thibodeau of Rumford, wearing pink pants, a plaid blouse, and flashy, untied high-top sneakers, performed “Just Say Yes” by alternative rock band Snow Patrol.
Kymberly Couch, 17, of Mexico slowed it down with her emotionally charged rendition of “Colors of the Wind.”
Proceeds from the event, which usually attracts about 150 people, benefit the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network.
“This will be a bigger show than we've ever had, because we have more contestants,” said Diane Mitchell, lead ambassador for Maine's Cancer Action Network.
Last year, six youths, four teenagers and four adults competed for cash prizes, trophies and bragging rights in the "American Idol"-like competition. Saturday's show would feature six youths, eight teens and six adults.
The categories are based on age: youths are under 12; teens are ages 12 to 18; and adults are 19 and older.
They are judged on intonation; presentation (stage presence, appearance and energy); tonal quality and control; technique (accuracy of notes, breathing posture and correct rhythm); interpretation (phrasing, style and originality); and diction (clarity of consonants, naturalness and purity of vowels).
The performing arts show “gives kids the confidence to perform and it also gives them an opportunity, because there's not a lot of opportunity for them here,” Mitchell said.
After each group auditioned, the judges offered tips, especially concentrating on stage presence and body and facial movement.
“You have to perform every line of the song,” DeMilner-Deming told the six girls competing in the youth category.
“Some of you — like during the chorus or other parts of the song — I can tell you are more comfortable with getting a little more of your body into the song and a little more face into your song," she said. "We need you to do that every line, throughout the whole length of the song.”
Afterward, Couch said the event would be her first vocal competition.
“Being on stage is intimidating, but I really think that everyone did very well and I can't wait for tonight," she said.
Although it didn't show on stage, O'Neil-Gordon said she, too, felt stage fright.
“I was pretty nervous, but I just tried to bring it,” she said.
Mom Judy O'Neil-Gordon said her daughter, who has been singing since the age of 8, is taking voice lessons.
“I think it's wonderful,” she said of the event. “It gives the kids a chance to be up on stage, and people get to see a different part of people's personalities that they may not be aware of, and it's for a great cause.”
Glenn Gordon of Rumford said Voices of the Valley provides a much-needed opportunity for area vocalists.
“I think, like anything, that it's wonderful to have arts support in the River Valley,” he said. “This competition is a good success. I saw a lot of great talent this morning and I'm excited to see the show tonight.”