Aspiring singers called on for Burlingame Idol competition 

click to enlarge American Idol
  • AP Photo/Fox, Michael Becker
  • This March 19, 2014 photo shows judges, from left, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. on the singing competition series "American Idol XIII," in Los Angeles. The city of Burlingame is hosting a singing competition inspired by the TV show.
The Burlingame Parks & Recreation Department is giving local aspiring singers a chance to showcase their talents with a city-sponsored competition.

Auditions for the sixth annual Burlingame Idol, inspired by popular TV competitions like “American Idol,” began Monday and will continue through early next month. Singers selected to compete will have the opportunity to perform a polished musical selection in a final public concert June 7 at the Burlingame Parks & Recreation auditorium.

The singing competition was organized to allow budding stars to showcase their chops and provide a place where amateur talent can receive basic training to help potentially kick-start a professional music career.

Residents from around the Bay Area are invited to enter in one of five age categories: 5-10 years old, 11-14 years old, 15-18 years old, 19-39 years old, and 40 and over.

Cathy Foxhoven, founder and director of the event, recruits contestants in the course of her daily work running arts enrichment programs for children and adults, and even seeks out promising stars at the supermarket.

“When I’m out and about, I’m listening for people who are singing. It’s the butcher in Lucky’s who’s in the back, and as he’s cutting meat, he’s singing ‘Figaro, Figaro.’ I’ve been working on him for three years,” Foxhoven said. “I know that if he auditioned, he would win.”

About 40 people are expected to turn out for this season’s auditions, Foxhoven said. A series of eliminations will reduce the pool of contestants to three in each age group. Those finalists will then train for several weeks on a performance piece that highlights their vocal strengths.

“If they have a song and it’s not good for them, and they’re not singing in key and it doesn’t fit their voice, then I ask them to come back with a new song and we try to pick the best song for them,” Foxhoven said.

The identity of this year’s judges will be revealed at the finals. One will be a local booking agent.

Winners will perform at the Burlingame Chamber of Commerce’s ArtzFest in August. Several have gone on to television shows including “The Voice,” “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” according to Foxhoven.

Veronica Ortiz, now a senior at Burlingame High School, took top honors in the competition’s first year performing Adele’s “Chasing Pavement.” Since then, Ortiz has been cast in major lead roles in school productions and accepted to fine arts programs for college next year.

“My whole life I’ve really enjoyed musical theater and I’ve always loved to sing … [Burlingame Idol] was something that I did to expand the craft and keep going,” Ortiz said. “Being in an environment where you’re in a competition forces you to take critiques and forces you to grow.”

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S. Parker Yesko

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