A new SE93 Chautauqua Lake Idol has been crowned.
On Monday evening hundreds of Chautauquans gathered in Bemus Point at the Floating Stage for a finale worth remembering.
The final four were as follows: Alyson Borowczyk of Buffalo, Marquida Hughes of Jamestown, Adam McKillip of Jamestown and Heather Pawlak of Dunkirk.
However, the judges were tasked with the difficult decision of choosing only one to call winner. According to judge Tim Edborg, it was the best finals night that he had ever been a part of. But, one performance stood out from the rest. Pawlak took the stage just like every other night, but stole the hearts of everyone in the audience with her performances of "Chain Of Fools" by Aretha Franklin and "Anyway" by Martina McBride. Her consistently strong performances that drew standing ovations almost every performance throughout the season secured her the title of Chautauqua Lake Idol.
"I was in total shock when they told me, I don't even know what to say," said Pawlak. "This is a blessing and it is just amazing. I think my family and friends are all proud of me. But, I'm proud of everybody up here (the finalists) because I had such a good time with them. Tonight was the best night because it doesn't matter, whoever wins wins, but we don't have to worry about getting kicked off anymore. So, sing it for the people."
Pawlak was looking forward to the performance of the Martina McBride song "Anyway" and according to Edborg it was obvious why.
"There is technical ability and then there is performance," said Edborg. "And, Heather unzipped her chest and put her heart out on that deck for everyone. That was the only time this season that I felt that - and I cried. I think that song won it."
Those who loved Pawlak's performances can see her sing at karaoke night at 41 West in Fredonia every Thursday. They will also have the chance to see her perform on the floating stage one last time during the Sep. 1 Labor Day concert featuring Pam Tillis and the Bemus Bay Pops full symphonic orchestra.
"Heather will be in the spotlight as being announced as the Chautauqua Lake Idol winner," said Andrew Hill, master of ceremonies.
Even though Pawlak's performance was strong, so were the performances made by the other finalists, and that made the decision incredibly difficult.
"All four finalists peaked and did the best that they could have done," said Edborg. "From a vocal entertainment perspective I don't think it could have been any better. What I care about is how you touch me. Adam, who got voted back on three times, people love him because he touches people. Heather touched people the whole season. Marquida was consistent and her singing Jennifer Hudson's "I Am Telling You" will stand out in my mind. Performance and moves wise Alyson was my favorite. Not as touching as the others, but absolutely a great singer."
Now that the ninth season of Chautauqua Lake Idol has come to a close, Hill will begin planning the 10th anniversary celebration for next summer.
"It's a long decision making process but I can say that we will put together a special 10th anniversary concert," said Hill. "This year we brought back last year's winner Samantha DeJesus. At this point with nine years under our belt it's impossible to bring back all the past winners. But, bringing back last year's makes sense. As long as people come try out we'll have our 10th season. In regards to the tonight's finale, it was one of the most entertaining finales we've had. Anybody whose made it to this point in the competition deserves it, and the four finalists tonight certainly deserved to be here. But, there is only one idol tonight, and that's Heather."
For more information visit chautauqualakeidol.com.