CLAYTON -- People came to the Town Square in droves Friday night to continue the Harvest Festival tradition of choosing a Clayton Idol and Junior Clayton Idol.
With five contestants for Junior Idol and eight for the main prize, the judges had their hands full in deciding the best of the night’s talent.
Chris Lane of the Chris Lane Band, which performed after the Clayton Idol winners were announced, judged the competition with help from town public information officer Stacy Beard and 94.7 WQDR weekend host Joel Gillie.
After hearing songs that ranged from Kelly Clarkson to the musical “Hairspray,” and even one original, the judges announced who would follow in the footsteps of Scotty McCreery, famous in Clayton for winning Clayton Idol in 2009.
Abigail Stephens took home the prize for Junior Clayton Idol after singing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. A fourth-grader at McGees Elementary, Stephens plowed through a difficult performance in which the CD continued to skip. But Stephens kept her cool, keeping the rhythm and skipping ahead in the lyrics when she had to because of the CD/
While the emcee gave Stephens an opportunity to sing her song again, she and her mother decided she had given a strong performance despite the technical difficulties, and they were right.
“I was like, oh no! And just trying to keep the rhythm,” Stephens said. “I did start crying a little bit.”
Last year, Stephens won runner-up to Junior Clayton Idol Nicholas Kraft. This year, Stephens said she wanted to try her hand to see if she could win first place.
“I didn’t really expect to win,” she said. She was particularly impressed by Jonathan Durham’s ‘Proud to be an American,’ and thought he would go home with the title.
With the Junior Clayton Idol title now on her resume, Stephens says her goal is to become a famous singer in the vain of Adele or Taylor Swift.
In the 12-to-18 age group for the Clayton Idol crown, Hunter Rae Houston won with an acoustic rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.
A senior at Clayton High School, Houston chose the song last Saturday after spending the whole day on iTunes trying to figure out what to sing. She said she chose something she could play on the guitar so she could show her multiple talents.
“I wanted to change it up a little bit,” Houston said of her choice to do an acoustic rendition of the heavier rock song.
Houston said she was at the Clayton Idol show in 2009 when McCreery won and wanted to try it out for herself.
“I didn’t think I was going to win; I just wanted to perform,” Houston said.
While she’s going to college to study nursing, Houston said she isn’t giving up on her dream to go further with her music and make albums. For now, it just might have to be something she does on the side.