ROCKINGHAM — Before the final round even began, judges for the Robin’s Idol karaoke competition had individually already decided the winner: Ally Roberts.
One of the judges, Stephen Wyand, relied completely on his hearing to make the call — because he’s blind.
“They all sounded great,” he said, but picked the 19-year-old Roberts partly because of her song selection and “the control of her voice.”
“Overall, her performances were very consistent,” he said.
The teen said she was a little excited during the drum roll, but when they rolled out a Jagermeister cooler as the prize, she was assuming she wouldn’t win.
“A lot of people were coming up to me and saying I was going to win, but I don’t really think like that,” she said. “I’m really critical of myself, but it’s a good thing.”
But when they called her name, she was surprised.
Ally Roberts said she has been singing “as long as I can remember,” including early years at her grandmother’s church and with friends. “I just do it constantly.
She sings in the praise band at summit church, has performed at city events (including 2017’s SpringFest) and even auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice,” but didn’t get a call back.
“It was more of a learning experience,” she said.
Ally Roberts had planned to try again this year, but a snowstorm in Indiana kept her down south. She’s also considering auditioning for “American Idol” next month in Charlotte — if she can work around classes at N.C. State University, where she will major in animal science.
Although she was the winner, judge Matt Harrelson said the decision was a tough one, picking between her, Neil Parrisher, Beth Baldwin, G.W. Crenshaw and Hunter Gainey.
Emcee Franklin Branch said he saw a YouTube video of Gainey, from Chesterfield, South Carolina, singing and said, “Dude, you’ve got to come do this, you’ve got to come on up.”
Gainey and Ally Roberts both one the final week of qualifying. Parrisher, Baldwin and Crenshaw won the previous weeks, respectively.
Although he wasn’t a finalist, Bill Thompson was a favorite for his renditions of Elvis songs. On Wednesday, he even wore a white jumpsuit like king did in his later years.
“It’s been a fun time,” Branch said.
The contest, held in June at Hudson Brothers Deli, was organized by Robin Roberts, with Branch setting the format and Bobby Deaver setting up the tunes. There was no cover charge or entry fee for singing or just listening.
“It really brought the community together, brought the people out,” Robin Roberts said.
During the qualifying weeks, contestants were brought up front for a group song. There was even a “kamikaze karaoke” where the singers had no clue what they would have to perform.
As the winner, Ally Roberts received a cash prize and a Jagermeister cooler. All other finalists were given a prize and Thompson was even gifted with a consolation prize.
Another contest is planned for August.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]