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Asia Davis headlining the Weekender because of dedicted F.A.N.S

The Union Democrat

Ten contestants ranging from a 17-year-old Sonora teen to 28-year-old women in Tuolumne and Mi-Wuk Village will try to out sing each other for a shot at being this year’s Mother Lode Idol.

The four-night competition running during the upcoming Mother Lode Fair July 12-15 is based on the hit television show “American Idol.”

But among the differences between Hollywood and the stage at the Stockton Road fairgrounds is one that Sandi Romena takes seriously.

Romena, the contest’s host and coordinator, doesn’t allow contestants to be made fun of something “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell has become famous for.

“I don’t mind constructive criticism, just as long as no one is saying, ‘you stink,’ ” she said.

Seventeen contestants, who each sung a cappella for two minutes, were narrowed down to 10 over the course of two auditions.

This year’s Mother Lode Idol contestants, in alphabetical order, are: Asia Davis, Jessica Davis, Kassidy Diaz, Coqui Drennan, Jenna Feagin, Casie Jachetta, Laura Massey, Joy Nelson, Elizabeth Pontious and Redeana Umland.

The contestants, ranging in age from 17 to the 28-year-old cutoff, are from Sonora, Jamestown, Twain Harte, Mi-Wuk Village and Tuolumne.

Audience members, using scorecards, pick who advances on the following night.

A panel of four judges also gives feedback. This year, “celebrity judges” include a radio disc jokey, an accomplished actress and the general manager of Black Oak Casino.

All 10 contestants perform on the first night of the fair. Three of them are sent home on Friday and three more say good-bye Saturday night.

On Sunday, two singers will be selected to perform a song of their choice in addition to one of their previously-sung songs, which Romena chooses.

The winner will have the chance to compete later this summer at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

The day before the fair starts, on July 11, all 10 contestants must turn in a compact disc with their three song choices. The CDs will be kept in a locked safe at the fairgrounds, Romena said.

“The contestants can sing anything, any genre they choose, as long as it’s clean and family oriented,” she said.

Contestant Asia Davis said among the songs she will hopefully get to sing is the classic Tina Turner cover “Proud Mary.”

“I think I will have some fun,” the 20-year-old Jamestown resident said. “Actually, I know I will.”

Jessica Davis, 28, of Mi-Wuk Village, said she auditioned by singing Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.”

“I really didn’t think I was going to make it,” she said.

For the past five years, Romena said, the contest has provided area residents the opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

Even if they’re as awkward as “American Idol” contestant Sanjaya?

“Like we tell all the kids, or contestants I should say: ‘It’s their week to be stars. How many people can say that?’ “

Contact Mike Morris at mmorris@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4537.

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