La PORTE – The stars aligned to form a constellation of music, singing and pageantry at Saturday night’s Hoosier Star competition.
The annual event draws music lovers and patrons of the arts from across Northern Indiana; more importantly it draws some of the best musicians in the area.
Hoosier Star marked its 13th year with some of the best and brightest in the area competing with the La Porte Symphony Orchestra providing backing music.
This year’s new “stars” are adult division winner Mike Green and youth division winner Jacob Griffin.
The contestants waited anxiously backstage for their chance to take the stage. The tension was palpable in the wings as they awaited their opportunity to step into the spotlight for a few minutes.
Friends and family waited with baited breath as finalists took the stage and the orchestra began to play.
There were local fan favorites in the youth division: Molly Lenig; and brother and sister rivalry Afyah and Joseph Giuliani. All gave amazing performances according to celebrity judges Trevor McDonald, Scot “PJ” MacDonald and Sheryl Edwards.
It was Maggie Cornett who performed an arrangement of the Leonard Cohen hit “Hallelujah” who managed to steal the light and garnered the John Mellen Rising Star Award.
The unassuming Jacob Griffin managed to steal the show for the youth division with his performance “Come Sail Away” by Styx. Griffin prowled the stage with the presence of a rock star.
Even taking time to play to his fans, the 30 or so people in the stadium style seating holding signs with phrases like “Jacob’s number one fan.”
Griffin won the youth division, calling the experience overwhelming.
The Michigan City resident who attends Westville High School said he plans to use the experience and the $500 prize as a stepping stone for his own endeavors in music.
The air in the auditorium was thick as adults took the stage for their performances. Laurel Blankenship, Bob Penney, and sisters Julia Obendorf and Rachel Lenker all chose songs from musical theatre. Abby Bradley sang the pop song “I Can Only Imagine.”
The ensemble duet of Obendorf and Lenker performed “Never Enough” from the Greatest Showman. The amazing harmonies and vocal range earned them runner-up in the adult division.
The sisters were sibling rivals at everything until one day their father encouraged them to sing together.
“Our father told us to stop fighting; you shared a womb, you can at least share a song.”
It was Mike Green of La Porte who was last to take the stage in the adult division, performing the seemingly impossible Bocelli song “Con Te Partiro,” Green’s performance would certainly have been hard to follow, and he won the adult division.
“I’m thrilled to be here to win, and blessed,” he said. “All the competitors were great and we were all really supportive of each other, but I was really happy with my song selection. I’ve sang in a lot of cover bands and theater. I don’t get to really pull that classical aria type stuff out. So, with the symphony it just seemed right.”
Green said he has some engagements in Colorado and a surprise coming later this month for family and friends.