Windy City Gay Idol semi-finals this Saturday
Windy City Gay Idol in 10th year of showcasing local LGBT talent
by Anthony Morgano
CHICAGO, IL -- After ten nights of auditions held at various LGBT bars and clubs across the city, Windy City Gay Idol has narrowed down this year's search for the best amateur LGBT singer in Chicago.
James Gavin participates in Windy City Gay Idol credit :: mysticimagesphotography.com
On this Saturday afternoon, June 2, those 22 talented singers will gather at Sidetrack in Boystown for the 10th Annual Windy City Gay Idol semi-finals. This round and the finals, which follow two weeks later, are highly anticipated events at the popular Halsted Street hangout.
"There's a lot of excitement and great energy - the contestants take us on a roller coaster with their performances and emotions and then the audience has the power to help them advance," said Cynthia Holmes, the Business Manager at the Windy City Times who organizes Windy City Gay Idol. "It's a very entertaining day."
The semi-finalists are made up of the first and second place winners from each of the preliminary rounds and the three individuals to whom the judges awarded the special rainbow tickets. The tickets, a new addition to the contest this year, allowed the judges to advance three people directly from the preliminary rounds to the semi-finals. Memphis-native graphic designer Robert Hughes received his ticket after a performance of "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding.
"I'm a newbie to Chicago and I'm soaking it all up, been here 2 months and it just gets better and better," Hughes, who currently lives in the Edgewater neighborhood, told ChicagoPride.com. "I'm a wild card you've gotta watch out for."
This year's contestants represent a variety of Chicago neighborhoods, from Edgewater to Pilsen, Portage Park to Chicago Lawn. While some, like Hughes, are transplants to the Windy City, several, like Max Demian, are native Chicagoans. Demian, who won another of the rainbow tickets, didn't even know he was auditioning at Crew last month until he heard his name called. On the other hand James Gavin, who was advanced from Crew the same night after singing Michael Buble's "Feeling Good," is in his fifth year as a finalist for the competition.
"I truly have grown and blossomed as a vocalist and performer in the last five years, and I give a lot of credit to Gay Idol for that. This year, I truly believe I am the complete package and deserving of the title," said Gavin, who recently graduated from DePaul. "I hope the voters will give me a chance this year. I mean, even Susan Lucci eventually won her Emmy Award, right?"
Windy City Gay Idol has help launch performing careers for both its winners and its finalists, so audiences on Saturday can be sure of seeing some true Chicago talent. Christine "OluToy" Lawal is a native Chicagoan pursuing a music career and plans to sing an original work titled "Down" for Saturday's contest. Timothy Patricio, who auditioned for the first Gay Idol 10 years ago, works real estate by day, but is using his skills as an occasional DJ to reengineer a Broadway show tune by mixing it with dance music, making a familiar song that means a lot to him new and exciting for the contest.
Like Patricio, many of Saturday's contestants work day jobs. Kara Carrell is a Media Specialist at the New Learning Institute a co-organizer with United Latino Pride in Chicago who was advanced from Spin after singing Amy Winehouse the same night as Josue De Jesus Davila, who works selling cosmetics for Lancome Paris. The 26-year-old Davila, who describes himself as an "androgynous boy next door," has much more than just a song planned for Saturday -- he has a whole outfit, complete with heels.
"I want to use this platform to show off my daring, chic take on androgyny," Davila told ChicagoPride.com. "Androgyny is everywhere we turn, we just don't see enough of it in the media. So, that's where I come in."
The contest starts promptly at 3 p.m. at Sidetrack, 3341 N Halsted, and will last for about three hours, including a live performance by Chicago's all-girl band Hot Mess. Over the course of the afternoon, each contestant will sing one song and, like in the preliminary rounds, a popular vote by the audience will decide which 12 performers advance to the finals, also held at Sidetrack, two weeks later on June 16.