Cortez Idols get serious

The Cortez American Idol competition is approaching its fifth week and the competition is heating up. Blondie's Pub and Grub opened the event to the public on Jan. 2, inviting young and old singers to audition with the goal of becoming the first Cortez Idol.

A total of 55 hopefuls auditioned in the first two weeks. Beaming with optimism and anxiety, they came from Dove Creek, Durango, Farmington, Mancos, Dolores, and of course, Cortez. Patty Simmons, owner of Blondie's, was so surprised by the turnout that she quickly improvised the show's details. Along with the other judges, they decided to expand the competition to 15 people in the running for the crown, rather than 10.

They also had to push the starting time to 8 p.m., when they realized a different group of people were coming in. Simmons said Cortez Idol night has become a family affair, with children dancing and singing, and grandparents coming out to support their favorite performer.

Women, men and children were all a part of the tryouts but it will be an all-female group in the final 15. They waved goodbye to eight contestants the third week, in order to get back to the original drawing board. To a packed house of family, friends and other audience members, contestants brought the house down, getting more serious about their fate as each week progresses.

Just like the nationwide Idol, the Cortez competition is getting harder by the song. In the beginning, singers could choose their music, using the karaoke monitor only if they absolutely needed to. Now judges choose the style of music and monitors are gone from the stage. Judges are really looking for the personalities to shine. Last week, the contestants had to sing an Elvis song of their choice, but were not allowed to look at the screen. Two more singers had to say their farewells as they exited the stage.

In this week's bunch are five women, the youngest being 16, who are as diverse in their vocal ranges as they are in age. Jill Carlson, Pepper Noyes, Megan Demars, Brianna Sanchez and Marla Sitton, will hope to advance during the fifth round of Cortez Idol on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Carlson is a lawyer who runs her own practice, Noyes is the operations support manager for Smiths Group, Demars is a hair stylist and Sitton is the choir teacher at Montezuma-Cortez High School. All four come from Cortez. Sanchez, is the youngest to advance this far into the competition. At 16-years old, she is a high school student in Dove Creek.

These last few were asked to choose a country song and a love song from a movie to sing. Practice makes perfect this round, because the karaoke monitor is gone for good.

The show begins at 8 p.m. and tables are up for reserve. Simmons said they have reserved all tables before 5 p.m. since Idol took off. This week the audience will watch the contestants dwindle to the final three. On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the top three performers will battle it out for the win, with the first place winner walking away with a $300 prize. The last seven contestants will all receive participating prizes from local liquor distributors.

Listeners are coming out in droves to support their favorite performers and see who will end up being the first Cortez American Idol.