SE93's Chautauqua Lake Idol Finals Night is on the horizon.
With only four competitors left, who are all ready to bring their best, Monday's event will put them all to the test.
During Finals Night, each competitor will perform two songs. One of the songs was picked by the judges, who made their decisions based on what they believed would best represent the individuals talent. The second song will be a song of the finalists' choice, one that they think they can do justice.
The final four are as follows: Alyson Borowczyk of Buffalo, Marquida Hughes of Jamestown, Adam McKillip of Jamestown and Heather Pawlak of Dunkirk.
Borowczyk is a fitness instructor and Starbucks barista. She graduated cum lade in with a bachelor's in history from Buffalo State College, and is currently working on her master's at U.B. to teach as a college level professor.
Borowczyk first heard about Chautauqua Lake Idol during Heather Pawlak's karaoke night at 41 West in Fredonia.
"She brought down Samantha, a previous Chautauqua Lake finalist to sing," said Borowczyk. "So, I asked my husband about it, he told me it's kind of a big deal around here and that I should do it next year. So, I did."
Some performers have been daunted by the idea of performing in front of a large audience with a live band, but not Borowczyk.
"Being in front of a crowd is not something that's scary for me because I've performed all over the place," said Borowczyk. "It wasn't so much scary for me being in front of the crowd as it was exciting to see how the community responds to this event how everybody loves it."
Borowczyk has impressed judges with many of her performances. During '80s Punk Rock and Queen Night judges said it was her best night so far. She performed Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You " and Queen's "I Want To Break Free."
"The judges are very sweet people," said Borowczyk. "They don't try to be rude or break you down. They genuinely want to see all of us succeed. I think that's been evident because their critiques are to make us better, and are given with kindness."
She also noted how much she enjoyed working with SE93's Andrew Hill, master of ceremonies.
"Andrew is wonderful, he is such a fun guy and he always loosens our nerves before every show," said Borowczyk.
Now that she is in the final four,
"I didn't anticipate it," said Borowczyk. "It gets so intimidating every week because everybody (the finalists) is fabulous, and they keep getting better. So, when you listen to your competition, as much as you want them to do well because they are great people, you wonder how am I going to follow that up. At this stage of the game it's so close, and I know I have to do everything I can to win."
Borowczyk, who has been a dancer her whole life, will be integrating some choreography into Monday's performance. She'll be singing "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar and "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner.
"I'm really excited about dancing," she said. "The song I picked is really fast paced and high octane. I'm excited to show that dimension of my voice, because I don't think I've been able to yet."
If Borowczyk does win, she's looking forward to the bike from Jamestown Cycle Shop because she is a spinning teacher, and she has been wanting a new road bike for a while.
"I'm definitely going to have fun with it," said Borowczyk. "But, ultimately any chance I get to perform is hands down the best prize of all. If you look at it that way, this whole summer has been a nicely wrapped little gift."
Pawlak is from Dunkirk and is a stay at home mom of five who hosts karaoke night at 41 West in Fredonia. She has loved every moment of the competition, especially working with the other contestants.
"I've absolutely enjoyed it," said Pawlak. "I think there has been a really great group of people singing this time, and I miss some of the people who left because I really enjoyed spending time with them."
Even though she hosts karaoke, she still experiences stage fright when performing in front of a large audience. According to her, it has been a challenge to overcome that fear, but the competition has helped her a lot.
"It's done a lot for me in terms of getting up there in front of everybody, and not closing my eyes or getting sick," said Pawlak. "Karaoke is different, the audience is always in front of me. And, it's been kind of scary working with a full band. I feel so blessed being able to sing with them because they are just amazing."
The judges helped Pawlak with her stage fright quite a bit. According to her, they reminded her that she needs to have more confidence.
"It's very hard for me to have confidence in myself, but I'm working on it," said Pawlak.
Pawlak has received much praise from Hill and the judges. Plus, she has drawn several standing ovations from the audience.
"I was so thankful that I had gotten through my song and didn't mess up that I didn't even notice," said Pawlak. "But, when I did notice I was like 'Oh, yeah, they're standing up. I'm glad that everybody loved it, but I'm glad when they enjoy the whole concert."
For Finals Night Pawlak plans on performing "Chain Of Fools" by Aretha Franklin and "Anyway" by Martina McBride.
"There was no country night and I love country, especially Martina McBride because she is so inspirational," said Pawlak. "I said to myself that if I made it to the finals that "Anyway" was the song I was going to do. If I don't win on it that's okay, because I didn't even plan to make it this far, or past the first week. So, to make it to the finals is a really big deal for me. But, everyone up there at Finals Night is a winner. I hope it is everything that the audience wants it to be."
If she wins, she plans on divvying out many of the prizes to the other contestants. The one thing she is really looking forward to though is the two-day trip.
"The two-day trip would be a huge blessing for me," Pawlak said. "Because, I can't afford to go take a weekend at a nice hotel. It would be a celebration for winning."
McKillip has been playing music since the age of 9. He was part of the Infinity Performing Arts Bluegrass Project, and once performed at the Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. He has had the opportunity to perform at various local music festivals, open mic nights and is a member of three bands including Head Banger's Ball, Sweet Ass Cream Corn and with Melanie Luciano (currently touring with 10,000 Maniacs) in Onamonapia.
McKillip's friend Jon Osterdahl was in Chautauqua Lake Idol last year and his mother, in addition to his other friends, kept telling him he should do it himself.
"It's fun even though it's been a little stressful," said McKillip. "It helps to have a musical background."
So far, McKillip was voted fan favorite to be saved three straight times.
"It feels pretty good," said McKillip. "It's nice to know that people remember seeing me in other gigs, and will vote for me. It's nice being the fan favorite even though it is a little bit nerve wracking standing up there waiting for the decision."
McKillip added that working with Hill has been fun. And, that the judges have been helpful.
"They've given me advice here and there and that's nice to have," he said.
For finals night he has a few surprises planned. He'll perform "No Rain" by Blind Melon and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.
"I'm definitely excited to sing those songs, but I'm mostly just excited to be in the finale," said McKillip. "They gave me the thumbs up to play my guitar during the performance."
If he wins, McKillip plans on jumping up and down, yelling and being happy. He also added that he thinks anyone who wants to perform in Chautauqua Lake Idol should go for it.
"Just go and try for it, you never know," said McKillip. "I was in the bottom three every time, I wasn't expecting to be here, so yeah go try it."
Hughes is a medical office Technician from Jamestown. She first heard about Chautauqua Lake Idol through friends and family.
Thus far her experience working with has Andrew Hill, the judges and being in front of a large audience has been unforgettable.
"Andrew has been great to work with," said Hughes. "When I started in this competition I was extremely nervous beyond regular anxiety, and Andrew's funny sense of humor toward everyone helped me relax. Sometimes he ask questions that are way out of the blue, you say to yourself where does he get this stuff, then again in a weird way your relaxed after answering them. And, it helped build my confidence."
Hughes has had some really interesting outfits at her performances including a rendition of Cee Lo Green and a punk rock getup. For her, dressing the part helped her feel more in character and was also a lot of fun.
"It was more fun than anything," said Hughes. "I was always anticipating what everyone else would be wearing the next week. But, for my last performance I'm keeping it simple. Since I made it this far I think I should give more of my personality than what I'm wearing."
The finale is a showcase of each contestants talent by focusing on song of their choice and a song of the judges' choice. For Hughes the judges picked "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner and she picked Jennifer Hudson's "I Am Telling You."
"As for the performance, because it is the finale show, I didn't plan anything. I want to go with the flow, have no concentrations and be able to relax, sing and have fun with the audience," said Hughes. "My plan to perform is to not perform. Because this competition is more realistic every time we go on stage, sometimes when I think performance I feel like it's not real.
"When the band plays and the music fades, I want be able to sing the right phrase," she added.
Hughes has refrained from finding out what the prizes are through the whole competition. She wanted to focus on winning and not what she'd win.
"If I win I would take the time to find out what the prizes are because I have not done that yet," she said. "I wanted to focus on winning and I think knowing what the prizes are would distract me."