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Sue Bush
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Time To Be "Idol-ized"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, December 28, 2006

Berkshire Idol fundraiser organizers Joelle Brookner, Liz Boland and Susan Daugherty
North Adams - If you've got the talent, they've got the stage.

Round 1 Berkshire Idol 2007 talent auditions kicks off on Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Church Street Center, and new this year, a second Round 1 session will occur Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. at the Berkshire Community College Hawthorne Building in Pittsfield.

Try This On For Prize

Kerri-Ann Ruthven is a Berkshire Idol organizer and Becky Cellana works to promote the benefit, which plans donate revenues from a 2007 fundraiser to four Berkshire region non-profit entities.
Ultimately, two first prize winners will walk away from an April 28 finale a bit wealthier; first prize for one category is $1,000 cash and first prize for a youth category is a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. Both first-prize winners will receive four hours of recording time at the city-based Skyboro recording studio.

Advance audition registration is strongly recommended by fundraiser organizers. Registration forms may be completed and submitted on-line from a Internet web site [click on the "application" icon].

"Those who don't register may come to the auditions but we are not guaranteeing that they can try out," said co-organizer Susan Daugherty.

The audition fee is $20 if an individual registers in advance or $25 if they register at the audition.

Funds To Benefit Four Non-Profit Agencies

This year's event beneficiaries are the Elizabeth Freeman Center, which offers services to those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent acts, the regional Big Brothers/Big Sisters agency, which pairs area youth with an adult who serves as a friend and mentor, the Berkshire Food Project, and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, which sponsors numerous community and youth groups and community events.

All the selected beneficiaries are non-profit entities.


There are several changes to this year's program. Age categories for this year's event are age 8 to 15 and age 16 to adult. The BCC-sited audition means creating a venue for Central and Southern Berkshires performers.

A second round of auditions that will further whittle the competition prior to an April finale is set for March 10 at the MCLA center. Those who earn a berth for Round II will know very soon after their Round 1 performance; Round 1 audition judges are expected to present those deemed worthy of future performances with a gold-colored ticket almost immediately after each performance concludes.

Round 1 performances must be a cappella and are limited to 30 seconds.

"We want to hear the true voice," Daugherty explained.

Winners from an April 2006 Berkshire Idol event are allowed to compete this year but professional singers, meaning those who are paid to perform, are excluded from competition, organizers said.

Video Voting After Round II

Round II auditions will allow accompaniment, such as background music provided by a CD, and performance times will be expanded to up to three minutes. Friends and family members may watch Round II performances for a $5 fee. Second round judging will be based on factors including vocal quality and stage presence.

Round II performances will be videotaped by Northern Berkshire Community Television staff and the performances will be broadcast on a NBCC public access channel. Videos will be posted at a web site and those viewing the performances on the site will be allowed to vote for their favorite performance once daily, according to even organizers.

The Internet voting results will be considered during the final judging.

If You Raise A Lot Of Revenue, You Might Need A Vacation..

Those chosen to perform during the second round will be charged with raising at least $100, and the money will be directed toward the four beneficiaries. The Round II contestant who collects the most donated dollars will win a free weekend at Vacation Village in Hancock, Daugherty said. The prize value is about $1,400, she noted.

Eight performers from each age group will be selected for the finale. The final performances will be open to the public and details about where the event will occur and ticket information will be announced on a web site.

Judges Panel

Williamstown Theater Festival Director Roger Rees has agreed to serve as a judge again this year and Berkshire native Michael Joseph[], who is pursuing a country music career in Nashville, will also sit on the judges panel, Daugherty said.

Additional judges will be announced in the near future and at least one of those who may agree to participate as a judge is a recognized entertainment "name," organizers said.

Organizations were chosen to receive event proceeds after considerable discussion, said organizer Joelle Brookner.

Rai$ing The Revenue $takes

"We talked a lot about it and we batted around a lot of things," she said, and emphasized that the groups selected offer services to residents county-wide.

"That was important," she said.

Daugherty said that those affiliated with the four entities have pitched in to help promote the event.

"There are people with one of the groups plastering posters all over south county," said Daugherty.

"The groups are excited," said organizer Kerri-Ann Ruthven.

The 2006 event generated a net total of $15,000 that was distributed at a 75/25 percent split between the Louison House in Adams and the Mill City Productions community theater troupe. The Louison House received the larger percentage of funds.

This year, organizers are hoping to generate a net total of at least $30,000 to divide among the selected agencies.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.
Your Comments
Post Comment
Rich man makes a good point. But what I have found in life, is that people that sit back and criticize without ideas as to how to make things better, are really just "wanna be's" and deserve none of our time or attention.
It makes me wonder if this person has ever had an original idea or has done one quarter of what the Berkshire Idol Committee has accomlished in the name of charity.
Charity can take different forms and maybe it is time for the committee to review and evaluate their model. But kudos to these people for trying and more importantly, for creating some diversion for children and away from the other bad influences that exist in todays societies.
I commend you for your work and effort. A good idea that may need some tweaking but keep it at, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Personally, I would hate to see any of your work diminshed because I believe it was given in the true spirit of charity: love and caring.
And for the rich man, my father use to say, "It is better to be silent and thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubts." Your message is lost in the way it was delivered.
from: moderatoron: 01-24 00:00:00-2007

I really don't understand the anger and resentment expressed in the comments from "if I were a rich man". All kinds of people want to contribute to charities and in my experience it is often those of us who are not wealthy, who work 9-5, those of us with regular jobs (or even those without them), who most want to help out where we can. It is those of us without lots of cash who understand what it is like to need help. It is those of us out in the "trenches" everyday who understand what the world is really like. I have personally seen SO much generousity come from people who themselves can least afford it - and it is with great pride that it is given. So, I am confused and disturbed by the negative comments expressed above. It's an unfortunate expression of ill-will from that person, but fortunately, not an expression shared by everyone.
from: Sholom Aleichem ("peace be with you")on: 01-22 00:00:00-2007

Exactly my point, sour note. If the fundraisers are actually 1.looking for the best talent and 2.trying to raise the most money for their selected charities, then they would not be charging people $20-$25 to compete, then asking them to donate another $100 after that. How is a family that is barely scraping by going to afford that? I can hear it now: "But mom, I REALLY want to try out - Please!!!" "Sorry Sally, but we can't afford that $20. Maybe next year..."
First of all, it makes the competition elitist. Secondly, it mandates contributions, the opposite of the true definition of "charity."
FYI - I heard through an acquintance that only about 40 people showed up on Saturday in North Adams. I don't know if this is true or not, but it sounds like they're a long way away from that $30,000!
from: If I Were A Rich Man...on: 01-22 00:00:00-2007

Holy toledo....I kind of hope you did not go to the Berkshire Idol audition! You sure did hit a bunch of wrong notes here. It's a fundraiser; the idea is to raise money! Whoever this organizing group is, good thinking and good idea!
from: hearing a sour noteon: 01-20 00:00:00-2007

I could enter this competition. The headline to this story should read: "If you've got the MONEY, they've got the stage."
Since when do people auditioning for Idol have to fork over $20? Let's see, 30 seconds, that's $40 per minute, 60 minutes in an hour...that's a whopping $2,400 an hour!!! Highway robbery, some would say. And IF you have the talent to advance, you get to "donate" another $100, that's not counting the $5 per person for everyone in your family that wants to see you perform.
I think I'll mosey on over to MCLA tomorrow and see how many people have taken the bait. Not many, I'd wager.
This fundraising committee is bonkers. I am a well paid professional, but charging me to sing for you? I'd be much more likely to put $20 in a hat on my own.
Idol is about competing, and winning, not getting stiffed. Given the median salary of the average resident in North Adams, don't expect to hear the best of the best in the finals.
from: If I Were A Rich Man...on: 01-19 00:00:00-2007

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