Photo by Stefanie Erickson |CIGAR|

A winner was finally declared after 64 singers competed for a top prize of $1500 in a karaoke-style singing competition the past couple months.

Wakefield Idol has now finished its fifth season. Similar to the TV show “American Idol,” a panel of judges give the contestants feedback and announce who advances to the next round. Each performance takes place in front of a live audience at The Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The competition ran every Thursday from Jan. 11 to March 22. Past winners include Jason Quinn, Olivia Rich, James Desalvo, Dominic DeFilipi and the newest Wakefield Idol, Charlotte Roberts.

“It was a crazy, intense, and humbling experience,” DeFilipi, a student at the University of Rhode Island, said. “The contestants and I became a family, giving each other advice and cheering each other on. I gained more confidence in myself as a performer and even a mini-fan club. My dreams of becoming a jazz-singing pharmacy student became a reality.”

URI senior, Samantha Miller, placed fourth and said, “I really do like singing and it’s fun to perform. My sister auditioned, and I used to sing when I was younger, so I thought I’d sign up. I definitely gained more of an appreciation for the people that came to support me.” She competed this year with her sister Jenna Miller and friend Hannah Leach, both sophomores at URI.

The Contemporary Theater Company’s General Manager Maggie Cady explained that it was all about getting local people up on stage. The mission with Wakefield Idol is to provide opportunities for the community to create and experience a live performance that everyone can enjoy. Many singers do not perform regularly, but have this opportunity to show their talent.

“This was my first time singing in public,” URI senior Matthew Monfils said.

Much of South County is closed during the winter, so this is a chance for the local community to get out and do something fun. Around half of the audience has season tickets. They come every week and get invested in the stories of the singers, watching them develop over the course of the competition.

Phil’s Main Street Grille live streams each show right next door. Viewers have the chance to save their favorite from elimination with voting ballots. The final sing-off is left entirely up to the votes of the audience, determining the fate of the four remaining contestants.

“It’s been amazing to watch Wakefield Idol develop over the years and provide so many opportunities for the community,” Cady said. “There is something special about seeing the talent of your friends and neighbors on stage.”