As executive director of the Brandon Family YMCA, Greg Sorenson was appreciative of the talent that sang out for the cause that helps his organization send to summer camp youngsters whose families are in economic straits.
“We’ve seen much more of a need, really in the past two years,” he said at the Brandon Elks Lodge, prior to the start of the April 30 Brandon Idol contest for adults. “Our foundation is building on strong kids. We’re excited for the monies [Brandon Idol] will raise to help us reach out to more kids in the community."
Indeed, Brandon Idol has always been a fundraiser to help community efforts, ever since its start in 2001, as an event hosted by Arlene Waldron in what would become her successful bid for honorary mayor of Brandon.
The mayoral race is run each year in June, with the new mayor “elected” based on the candidate who raises the most money for local charities, including the Community Roundtable and the charities selected by each candidate.
Over the past couple years, Brandon Idol has expanded, with a Brandon Idol Teen competition held earlier in the day for middle and high school students. Both idol contests are now part of the Momentum Festival held annually, which includes also a .
The 2011 Brandon Idol winner is Maura Mazzer, who also took home the crown in 2005. In second place was Tammy Groff, the 2006 Idol winner. In third place, Alexander Shaw IV. The People’s Choice Award went to Chris Halfman.
In celebration of the contest’s 11th year, organizers invited former Brandon Idol winners back on the stage to compete with new contenders, some of whom were selected during auditions at local venues in the weeks leading up to the April 30 faceoff.
Mazzer sang, “I Am What I Am,” from the musical "La Cage Aux Folles,” and then ended the show with her rendition of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” from “Funny Girl."
“I can’t describe it,” Mazzer said about the feeling she gets when she performs on stage. “I feed off the people’s reactions. If they’re happy, I’m happy.”
For the first time, the winner received a $500 reward. Mazzer donated $100 in her prize money back to the YMCA.
“I’m bringing joy to somebody and that means more than money,” she said. “If my singing and my vocals helped better somebody’s day a little bit, that’s great.”
Joining Mazzer, Groff, Shaw in the 2011 Brandon Idol contest were singers Pedro Amaral, Brittany Brown, Racquel Elliot, James Hemenway, Lazarus Lastres, Britt Lobato, Jonathan Mousset, Erica Saenz and Beyoncie Staley.
Also performing were Chris Halfman, who won the People’s Choice Award, raising $1,060 for the charitable cause, organizer Dave Loebig, judge GaryElvis and Tony Gregorio of T2X Entertainment, known locally as the DeeJay who oversees karaoke Wednesday and Saturdays at O’Toole’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, at 1215 West Brandon Blvd.