The winner we chose, 16-year-old Olivia Peppiatt, a student in the School for Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School, gets her first prize Sunday when she performs just after noon at the Crave Lexington Food and Music Festival in Masterson Station Park.
The competition took place over three weeks at Thursday Night Live, in downtown Lexington at Cheapside. The first two weeks, auditioners sang in a booth and recorded videos that were shared on the Lexington Untapped website, where visitors voted on them. The field was narrowed down to 10 finalists by fan vote, and those performers came back to Cheapside Aug. 3 to perform for Saraya, Donald, and me.
It was an interesting setup: Competitors entered the booth again to sing, and the three of us listened in on headphones. But still, it was a performance, and some competitors really rose to the occasion.
In fact, going into the final performance, we thought we had our Top 3 set, “unless she messes it up,” one of us said of Olivia, the last to sing.
And she messed it up wonderfully, with an endearing, engaging performance of her clever original, “Hey, Mister.”
That was one of the things I really liked about this competition: Most of the performers presented originals. The thing that bugs me about shows like “American Idol” and “The Voice” – well, one of the things – is that all the songs are cover tunes, and singing covers will not launch a career. A musical artist will make his, her or their name performing original work they write or they develop in collaboration with writers. Can you engage us with something we never heard before?
The Untapped competition reiterated the fact that we have some folks in the area who are strong performers and songwriters.
Our first runner up was Cody Morgan, who grew up in Hazard and now lives in Winchester. The second runner up was Cassidy Napier of Wilmore, and Joshua Hancock won the fan favorite award.
The Top 3 will all perform at a concert in the Lyric Theatre in September, date TBA. Olivia and Cody also get a full-day private recording session at Nitrosonic Studio and a Tunecore licensing and distribution sponsorship. Joshua gets a trip to the Kaaboo Festival in Del Mar, California.
If you go
Crave Lexington Food + Music Festival
When: Noon Aug. 12 and 13
Where: Bluegrass Fairgrounds at Masterson Station Park, 3051 Leestown Road
Tickets: $8, free for children 10 and younger