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Ten talented teens: Faith Idol Junior contestants compete for top spot

FAITH — Huddled together behind a trailer stage right is a group of 10 hopeful teenage girls. With arms crossed and breath quavering, they’re each counting down the minutes until they grace the Faith Idol stage for their chance to advance to a second and final round.

For the group, this chance came Friday, June 30, in the midst of the 71st annual Faith Fourth celebration. Each contestant was given the chance to sing one song of her choice either with or without accompaniment and without the pressure of buzzers or on-the-spot critique from judges.

First up was Kaleigh Allen, a 15-year-old from East Rowan with dreams of becoming a singer or songwriter. She sang “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams, providing her own accompaniment on the guitar.

Allen’s dreams of stardom were echoed by contestant No. 2: 13-year-old Rachel Halcomb with aspirations of becoming a famous actress or singer later in life. This was Halcomb’s third talent competition, though she would acknowledge being nervous nonetheless.

“This is the first time I’ve sung in front of an audience in three years!” Halcomb said.

While Friday night’s contestants were young and green, the group shared an amount of life experience that exceeded their years. Sarah Montagnino, contestant four, has auditioned for “The X Factor” and “The Voice.” Rachel Ochoa, the last performer in the Faith Idol Junior group, has auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.”

Though things did not pan out for either during these attempts, the pair remains hopeful.

“They did want me to go back,” Ochoa said, “and I’m planning on it.”

Montagnino and Ochoa shared more than just a history auditioning for well-known televised competitions. They, among others from Friday night’s contest, boast voices with character and tonalities that emphasize their natural talents.

Montagnino’s powerful rendition of “Listen” by Beyoncé followed 18-year-old Karina Jacome’s performance of “Back to God” by Reba McEntire. Jacome’s voice, showcased after a minor technical difficulty in the show, was full of expression and feeling for the lyrics of the song — a suggestion from her mother.

“I like the song because it’s kind of true in a sense,” she said. “We have to give this nation back to God if we want it to go places.”

Jacome would end up placing third in the Junior’s section, with Rose Helms and Veronica Sanchez taking first and second respectively. Helms sang “Travelin’ Soldier” by the Dixie Chicks, and Veronica Sanchez sang “Titanium” by David Guetta.

Both Helms and Sanchez have beautiful alto voices with a perfect amount of vibrato. They differed in style: Helms’ voice a warm, folk-rocky sound with Sanchez’s rich and soulful.

Helms, a 17-year-old student from East Rowan, dedicated her song choice, and her obviously emotional performance, to a special someone in her life. With a shy and quiet smile, she explained.

“I have a boyfriend in the army, so I felt that it was appropriate.”

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