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Watch auditions for the Oldham Icon contest

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By Tony Cotten

A cool rain greeted performers as they entered the Oldham County Arts Center Feb. 24. The event drew talent of all ages during auditions for the second-annual Oldham Icon contest.
Oldham Icon is an event presented by Oldham Chamber & Economic Development and sponsored by area businesses. As part of the Oldham Chamber & Economic Development’s Showcase event on March 19, Oldham Icon adds a bit of flare and features local talent.
Styled after the globally successful American Idol seen on the Fox network, the local Icon event features local singers that are judged individually by local business people and community leaders. And although there are no set qualifications for the judges, many have entertainment, performing arts and/or musical backgrounds.
Contestants range from middle school to middle age, and this year many contestants returned from the inaugural event to try and advance by golden ticket to the Showcase finale.
“We had a lot of contestants back from last year,” Icon emcee David Bizianes said. “And it’s amazing the improvement some of them made in only one year.”
Bizianes was the show’s emcee last year. Though the total number of contestants was down, the competition was amazing, he said.
“It’s an exciting event to have. It really allows us to show off the talent of Oldham County,” Bizianes said.
Twenty-four contestants competed in this year’s Oldham Icon event and 17 earned golden tickets to perform in Buckner March 19 at the YMCA Youth Soccer Complex. Most notable of the finalists were Timothy Toombs, Brandy Neelly, Jacqueline Smith and Madeline Patrick.
After a line of teenage contestants, the appearance of Timothy Toombs was of great interest to the audience and the judges.
Toombs, dressed in blue jeans, took the microphone and grabbed everyone’s attention as the twang in his voice let loose a country song that would make Hank Williams Jr. envious.
And while Toombs was a break from the ordinary, Neelly spruced things up and the polish of her voice was evident having just returned as one of American Idols most recent Top 100 performers.
Neelly’s voice echoed through the arts center as she set the bar high for aspiring finalists.
One finalist unfazed by the lights and local star power was local mom Jacqueline Smith, who lit up the stage with her vivacious personality. Singing with her family watching, including her infant, Smith sang with a rich voice and ended with a cheer from her baby and a golden ticket in hand.
However, the most impressive performance of the night could have been awarded to Madeline Patrick’s rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.”
Patrick’s voice carried the tune as close as Celine Dion’s and left the judges with a stern impression of star quality vocals.
And while the hoopla of American Idol may be well rehearsed for television ratings and fat paychecks, the show of talent and the enjoyment that comes by listening to live vocals make the Oldham Icon finale an event truly worth looking forward to.

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