Meet the inaugural Montco Idol contest’s Top 12

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NORRISTOWN — It’s getting down to the wire for The Times Herald pop culture steamroller known as “Montco Idol.”
The dandy dozen have been chosen.
Our illustrious judges have spoken, and if you’ve been hankering to find out who made the final cut, here they are:
• Jacki Cooper, age 16 of Spring City
• Shane Larson, age 33 of Broomall (originally from Glenside)
• Rebecca (Becca) Grande, age 16 of Lansdale
• Gabrielle Bellita, age 24 of Norristown
• Erika Perez, age 36 of Lansdale
• Alyssa Gloria Garcia, age 13 of Norristown
• Jordan McAndrew, age 10 of Pottstown
• Danica Clauser, age 16 of Hatfield
• Francesca Rose Venezia, age 16 of Fairview Village
• Natalie Clauser, age 13 of Hatfield
• Kara Koser, (bio not submitted)
• Michael Hoy, (bio not submitted)
One of these 12 hopefuls will be Montgomery County’s answer to Kelly Clarkson or Scotty McCreery.
Three professional judges — Norristown native and singer Alaina Nelson, Ron DiSilvestro of Forge Recording and Edwina French, founder of Community Music School in Trappe — made their way through mp3 and video files submitted via the contest website at http://allaroundphilly.upickem.net/engine/Welcome.aspx?contestid=83254 or mailed in to The Times Herald.
This decidedly diverse panel handpicked what they believe to be the cream of the vocal crop, whittling 38 entrants down to the dozen whose fates are now in your hands.
It’s time to not-so-idly cast your Idol vote. Voting begins Friday at 9 a.m. at the above website or with a ballot appearing in the print edition of The Times Herald.
You may vote once every day. Print ballots must be original — no photocopies.
The three performers dubbed most Idol-worthy by listeners will sing their way into the winner’s circle with solo performances at the outdoor Norristown Arts Hill Festival on May 4, 2013.
The individual ultimately crowned Montco Idol will receive a $1,000 grand-prize package including a recording session at Forge Recording in Oreland to record a professionally rendered demo.
The second place winner will receive a prize package valued at $500, with a prize package valued at $250 going to the third place winner.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in this,” noted DiSilvestro, Forge’s chief engineer and producer, who has helped develop similar competitions for radio station WMMR and various charities. “It’s always nice to hear what talent is out there.”
Serving that audience of musicians and artists that may have eluded the spotlight was one of the goals that inspired Montco Idol, noted contest organizer Mike Weekley, marketing specialist for Times Herald parent company Journal Register Company.
“It’s a way of reaching them that we really haven’t done before,” he said. “We thought featuring their work might be the way to do that. This is a great showcase for talent in the area and will give some of these amateur artists a voice and something cool they can tack onto their musical resume … and maybe help some aspiring talent to take the next step.”

Story by Gary Puleo, gpuleo@21st-centurymedia.com

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Ashley Campbell