Lamorinda Idol Goes Virtual

Olivia Rhee, Staff Writer

Applause and cheers echo throughout the packed Orinda Theater as the young singer belts a final note. Stepping out the spotlight with a bright smile, she feels confident with her performance and returns to her seat. She continues to watch the other competitors, some who are friends, take the stage and express immense talent. Before the judges announce the final winner, she looks throughout the crowd of spectators to find her family and friends, wildly cheering her on. The participants of Lamorinda Idol, ranging from elementary school to high school students, experience the nervousness, excitement, and competition that Lamorinda residents look forward to each year. While the competition has continued for nearly 16  years, the coronavirus has impacted the normalcy of the popular singing competition. Transforming from in-person to completely virtual, producers of Lamorinda Idol try to deliver the same friendly competition that highlights some of the best talent of local students. 

As Lamorinda Idol is usually held annually over the summer, the first winter edition was held this past March. The winners of the winter Lamorinda Idol were announced March 15. Sophomore Sabrina Hernandez wowed the judges with her performance and won the high school category. After hearing that she won, Hernandez expresses her humble gratitude for the experience. “To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t necessarily participate this year to win. I wanted to do it for fun and there were many talented singers that I thought were going to win,” Hernandez said. As an experienced four year singer, Hernandez brought singing from a “hobby” to the stage, competing as a soloist and group in 2019 and 2020. 

Lamorinda Idol, now as a virtual competition, dramatically differs from prior years. Applicants were to submit a video recording of their performance to judges, who would then select the top performances. After family, friends, and fans cast their votes, the judges announced the winners over a zoom webinar. Due to the competition occurring during the winter, events that excited the audience for the finals did not take place, such as the summer concerts in the park. “Singing onstage is a whole different experience than recording videos,” Hernandez said. Because she won the high school soloist category, Hernandez is unable to partake in the same category in future years. “Although it’s upsetting that I won’t be able to get a chance to perform live, I’m still extremely thankful that I won.”

Although Lamorinda Idol has dealt with major changes over the past year of the pandemic, the competition still unites the musical community and highlights the amazing talent of students. Hernandez provides some words of wisdom to all the aspiring singers: “Put in your all in every performance, whether you want to win or don’t want to win. Even if it’s not a competition, always strive to do your best. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your voice is your own so just remember.”