Chautauqua Lake Voices Competition Begins In Bemus Point

BEMUS POINT – Hundreds gathered in Bemus Point to enjoy an evening of voices echoing across the lake Monday evening.

Area performers entertained a willing audience during the first week of Chautauqua Lake Voices. The show featured 10 performers, none of whom were eliminated. However, Nicole Tenpas, who was the final performer of the evening, was voted “coolest performer” via text message after her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name.”

According to Andrew Hill, director of operations and programming for Media One Group, producer and host of the show, because there were nearly 20 competitors selected for this year’s competition, eliminations will begin during week two.

“The last time we had two groups and we eliminated people each night, in all fairness we had singers eliminated that had no business being eliminated,” said Hill. “So, we decided that it’s much better for the judges to look at both groups so that way all the performers are judged equally and the 12 best will move on.”

The show featured 10 performers including: Tenpas, an 18-year-old from Ashville; Shelby Saylor, an 18-year-old from Corry, Pa.; Hannah Kellom, a 20-year-old from Jamestown; Dylan Carlson, a 19-year-old from Dunkirk; Jennie Melquist, a 20-year-old college student; Mike Bidney, a 28-year-old from Jamestown; Allison Beach, an 18-year-old from Randolph; Jamie Haight, a 39-year-old from Youngsville; Maria Sena, a 19-year-old from Ashville; and Victoria McIlvain, an 18-year-old from Jamestown.

The show began with Sena’s Maroon 5 cover of “Sunday Morning,” which judge Tim Edborg referred to as: “one of the sweetest songs ever written” and added that he felt Sena’s version was just as sweet. Haight then took the stage to try out Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” He effectively earned himself the nickname “Barefoot Jamie” from the judges after wandering about the stage barefoot during the performance. Beach won herself the first and only standing ovation of the evening with her performance of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.” During the judges evaluation Drew Minton offered the compliment, “If you keep doing that … wow;” to which Michelle Paterniti added, “We’re never going to forget that performance.”

Although Bidney’s tear-jerking “Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton drew scrutiny from the judges, Paterniti also stated that as a returner he was a better singer than he was before. Melquist’s rendition of “Next To Me” by Emeli Sande earned judge Patricia Newman’s comment, “A very powerful voice.” Carlson’s “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers drew Edborg’s attention with the comment, “Star quality tone.” Kellom’s powerful vocals on “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele had Edborg also offer, “Big voice – it’s huge.”

According to Paterniti, McIlVain was definitely in her element with her performance of “If I Die Young” by Band Perry. Saylor gained praise with her “very pretty voice” from Edborg, to which Newman added “eloquent.” And, Tenpas, who wrapped the evening up, served up some stage presence and attitude with her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name.”

Although she was not the main focus, bright red heels and comforting, confident vocals of the lovely Jennie Cross, daughter of John Cross, on backing vocals with the seasoned Babalu Band, was a welcome new addition to this year’s show. Jennie is an 18-year-old 2012 graduate of Jamestown High School who currently attends Jamestown Community College and plans on attending Mercyhurst.

Alyson Borowczyk, one of the top four of last year’s competition, made an appearance on the stage as a representative of the Lucille Ball Center for Comedy to present each competitor with two free tickets to the The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival Comics to Watch showcase, which is sponsored by Pandora Comedy.

Week two of the competition will feature nine performers including: Bill Brunacini, a 50-year-old from Jamestown; Becca Ehrlich, a 29-year-old who lives in Bemus Point and is originally from Waterford; Julie Haight, a 27-year-old who is originally from Erie and currently lives in Jamestown; Elizabeth Lucas, a 20-year-old from Jamestown; Michael Nugent, a 19-year-old from Lancaster; Sara Ross, a 30-year-old from Brocton; Shelby Seidler, a 21-year-old originally from Hollywood, Fla., who currently works on Lake Erie for the Coast Guard; Teal Weatherley, a 30-year-old from Jamestown; and Emily Windoft, a 19-year-old from Lakewood.

The elimination round will begin during week two, leaving the top 12 performers for Billy Joel night on Monday, July 22.

The competition will continue Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Floating Stage in Bemus Point. For more information visit www.ChautauquaLakeVoices.com or search for “Chautauqua Lake Voices” on Facebook.