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Patriotic songs set the standard during Manteca Idol
Junior Idol contestant Annie Banks performs during Wednesday’s competition. - photo by HIME ROMERO
• WHAT: Manteca Idol
• WHEN: Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
• WHERE: Chez Shari on second floor of Manteca Golf Course clubhouse
• MORE INFO: Call the Boys & Girls Club at 239-KIDS

Sometimes there’s a place for glitz, glamour, and glitter.

But on Wednesday night the eight talented performers vying for one of two available titles – Manteca Idol and Manteca Junior Idol – left the caboodle full of fun colors at home.
After all, this was one of the most serious nights of the entire competition, and it had very little to do with the decision of the judges.

With former Manteca Idol winner Cheyenne Milligan singing the national anthem to kick off the event, the remaining contestants – who will have only one regular week left to make their mark on the judges before the Boys and Girls Club Telethon rolls around on Nov. 23 – showed their patriotism during the “Idol Supports The Troops” week.

After a successful run last year, the Idol committee brought back the patriotic song selection in addition to limiting the singers to a 90s-era pop-rock song – a nice departure from the 60s and 70s-era music that had seemed so foreign to the relatively young group of singers.

It didn’t take long to see that these eight finalists can sing anything that the judges throw their way.

Junior Idol contestant Danielle Osoteo was great with Celine Dion’s “God Bless America,” but it was Amanda Fleig that won the battle of Celine with a stunning version of “Taking Chances” that catered perfectly to her vocal range and kicked off the Idol portion of the evening with a bang.

Shellie Hoyt – who once again was voted as having the best night by the judges in what was reported to be an extremely close final tally – proved to everybody that she in fact deserved the title for the last two weeks when she absolutely killed SheDaisy’s “Come Home Soon” that rocked not only everybody in the audience, but the entire panel of judges as well.

Their comments were so positive that Hoyt got a little bit choked up as she made her way off stage – tears of happiness that were well deserved by the contestant that flew under the radar for the majority of the competition.

And while the tone of the evening was moderately serious – with a beautifully assembled montage that ran during Melanee Scarborough’s half-time performance that painted a picture of troops in every situation imaginable – it was also a chance for some to have a little bit of fun.

Known affectionately among her fellow Idol contestants as “Ralph,” Trisha Checketts took a big chance on her 90’s pop song with Paramore’s “Crush Crush Crush” – something that could have done just that to her chances at impressing the judges. But her voice, her stage presence, and her amazing smile all helped her pull off the song that was a nice departure from the norm.

However, she wasn’t done from straying from the center.

While almost all of the other contestants chose Americana songs that were from within the last decade, Checketts stumped everybody with “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B” by the Andrews Sisters – something that my 93-year-old grandmother would have loved to have seen performed by such a talented singer.

There was also Katelyn Johnson who opted for the LeAnn Rimes version of “God Bless America” and then rocked the house with Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun” – showing everybody why she remains one of the top contestants after getting the highest marks during the first week of the continuous tallying.

And while Annie Banks once again took the top score with her renditions of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” and Vanessa Carlton’s “1,000 Miles,” it was Brian Rodrigues that kept with his tradition of impressing the judges and the crowd with his two modern tracks – “When I’m Gone” by 3 Doors Down and “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw.

Of course I can’t forget the adorable Kaylie Dotson who performed “Falling for You” by Colby Caillat in the same fashion that she does with almost every other sing – finding the delicate balance between overdoing it and under doing it and flirting the line like a professional.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the ultra-talented finalists of Manteca Idol, and you only have one more chance to see them show off before crunch time approaches.

The $5 entry fee at Chez Shari goes entirely to the Boys and Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop, and you’d be hard pressed to find talent like this anywhere else for such a low price.

They’ve worked for months to get to this point.

And now it’s almost time.