GONZALES — The 2015 Ascension Idol-Voice talent competition crowned a new champion Friday as Dutchtown High School student Madeline Ringwald took home first place with two powerful, professional performances.
“You think you’re watching someone who is an accomplished star when she’s up there because she just takes over,” said Ascension Idol-Voice emcee Matt Pryor, of Ringwald. “She just has a tremendous stage presence.”
The Ascension Idol-Voice competition showcases local talent but also raises awareness for The Ascension Fund, a nonprofit organization providing Ascension Parish public schools and teachers grants representing $1.3 million in awards since 1992.
Ascension Fund President Donald Songy said the grant money goes toward local teachers “who do innovative things in our classrooms.”
The singing competition raises about $5,000 each year, said Jennifer deFrances, Ascension Fund executive director.
In its fifth year, Ascension Idol-Voice is a competition based on the popular “American Idol” and “The Voice” TV shows.
Five celebrity judges mentored each of the competition’s 20 contestants and helped them with song selection and showmanship, deFrances said.
The judges included Charlotte Guedry, Darryl Hambrick, Jenny Heroman, Julie Jones and Mike Waguespack.
Auditions for the Ascension Idol-Voice were held in February and 20 competitors, all Ascension Parish middle and high school ages 13 years or older, were selected for the competition, deFrances said.
All 20 competitors performed one song Friday before judges and a packed audience at the Gonzales Civic Center.
Ringwald performed “Glitter in the Air” by Pink.
The judges then narrowed the field to five finalists including Ringwald, St. Amant High School’s Tyler Gremillion and Carleigh Keller, Ascension Christian School’s Ashlie McGowan and Dutchtown Middle School’s Baylee Sullivan.
The finalists performed one final song with Ringwald performing “Change” by Taylor Swift.
As champion, Ringwald receives an all-expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando.
As runner-up, Gremillion won a 40-inch HDTV.
Keller took home third prize, an iPad mini.
The Fan Favorite Award went to East Ascension High School’s Cameron Souiler.