ALEXANDRIA, La — Jonas Augustine, 22, of Pollock, La., is amazed at the possibility that he would be the winner of Saturday's Cenla Idol 2012 Finale in the Alexandria Mall.
"I couldn't belive it," Augustine says. "I do a lot of vocal contests, and I haven't won anything really big. It's kind of shocking."
However, with a lot of soul to Josh Groban's "You Raised Me Up," Augustine sang his way to his first dream, winning the prestigous Cenla Idol title. His next stop is New Orleans in one short week. He will compete for American Idol season 12 with a guaranteed first round audition spot, plus have hotel and travel expense paid.
Singing since fourth grade, Augustine used his experience competing in school choir competitions throughout elementary, junior high and high school. However, he admits that American Idol will take on a new set of preparation.
"I feel that I can work on stage presence, and convey my message through my performance," he says. "That is what I will be working on before going to New Orleans."
This is not the first time Augustine competed in Cenla Idol. Last year, Augustine made the top ten but was eliminated before the final round.
The top three is dominated by Cenla Idol veteran singers. Singing Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," Jack Hunter, 27, from Cottonport, La., makes it to the first runner-up position, his best finish since he began competing at his first Cenla Idol in 2003. Shontrell Russaw, 24, from Alexandria, La., finishes in the top three for the second time in three years (last time in 2010), as second runner-up, singing Rihanna's "Take A Bow."
However, the battle to decide the top three was not easy for the three judges.
Several contestants, both veteran and new to Cenla Idol, have strong performances. Cenla Idol veteran Ieshia Cannon, 24, from Alexandria, La., and newbies Kerigan Heitman, 15, from Lecompte, La., and Lauren Burch, 22, from Elmer, La., show off tremendous vocal range.
Four Pineville singers sing in the Finale. Markicia Maryland, 21; Madison Wakefield, 23; Sarah Dauzat, 22; and Emily Mayeaux, 16, provides the judges and audience good voices and enormous versatility in muscial styles.
For the first time, the standing-room audience at Alexandria Mall were able to interact with contestants and the competition via Twitter — #CENLAIDOL.
@LaurinKatilin: "Listening to #CENLAIDOL from my store. #wootwoot"
@KaseyP154: "Watching my favorite contestant Kerigan Heitman at #cenlaidol GEAUX KERI!"
@IAmNickYoung: "#CENLAIDOL in the mall. #coolstuff."
From the performances to the audience's reaction, the wealth of talent found in Central Louisiana looks bright for years to come.
Cenla Idol 2012 is presented by FOX 48, with Hixson Ford as Competition Title Sponsor, Five Star Furniture as the Audition Round venue and sponsor, Alexandria Mall as the Finale venue and sponsor and "Q93" KQID-FM as FOX 48's radio station partner.