By RUSSELL JONES
BRANDON — The next event in the Brandon Idol singing competition will be held on Feb. 16 at the Town Hall. Competitors will sing Broadway tunes for the crowd and try for the $1,000 prize that will be given away at the town carnival later this year.
In the past few weeks, The Reporter introduced readers to seven of the nine contestants. This week we will feature the final two, Jess Crossman and Holly Mugford-Bermingham.
Mugford-Bermingham is 28 years old, a music education teacher, and lives in Middlebury. Crossman, who won the fan favorite vote at the first show, is 34 years old, a supervisor at Atwater Dining Hall at Middlebury College, and lives in Goshen.
Brandon Reporter: What is your musical background?
Holly Mugford-Bermingham: I am a music educator and vocalist in two gigging Vermont bands. I sing for a reggae band, Root 100 based out of the Mad River Valley, and a rock and roll band, Band X out of Burlington.
Jess Crossman I have been singing since I was a young girl. Both my parents played music, so I was surrounded by it. My mother played bass in a band until she gave birth to me, so I’d like to attribute that, just a little, to my love for music.
I started to really get into singing when I was part of the Neshobe School Productions in the early 1990s. I was in chorus all through high school, jazz chorale, senior chorale, as well as The Walking Stick Theater Musical Productions. I attended Districts for three years as well as the Berkley Jazz Fest with Jazz Chorale, winning Outstanding Musician my Senior Year.
BR: What was your first time
singing in front of an audience and how was your experience?
HMB: I’ve been singing in front of audiences in musicals, small jazz combos, and the bands since I was in High School. I am from Randolph, Vt., home of Chandler Music Hall, where many of my first musical performances took place. It was always fun to sing for people in my hometown!
JC: I sang a lot as a little kid, but my first big performance was as Peter Pan at Neshobe in 6th grade. I remember being so terrified to sing my first song by myself and then I immediately felt that high from the audience and how much I loved it. I knew that’s when I truly fell in love with being on stage.
BR: What is your favorite song
to sing in public and why?
HMB: I love to sing Aretha Franklin songs. Especially “Baby I Love You!”
JC: That is a tough one. I would have to say I always loved singing the national anthem.
BR: What song did you choose for your first Idol
show and why?
HMB: I sang “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. I am a huge Sara Bareilles fan and this is one of my favorite songs. The lyrics and melody are so moving to me and “Gravity” is not from a genre that is represented in this competition.
JC: I sang “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I fell in love with the Rufus Wainwright version so long ago, it was so haunting, and I was listening to it a lot during a very big transition in my life. It just felt like the right song to sing after not singing for so long and was such an easy song for me to connect with.
BR: Would you rather sing
karaoke or with live accompaniment? In public or private and why?
HMB: I prefer live accompaniment, but it can be fun to have recorded tracks too. I enjoy singing whether someone is listening or not, but sharing my love of music with others is what it’s all about for me.
JC: Live accompaniment for sure. I have always been in theater and choral groups where live accompaniment was present, it’s just what I am used to. And although I love a good jam session in the car there is nothing like singing for a live audience. I love it.
BR: Which genres are you most
worried about singing in the competition? Which are you most excited about?
HMB: I’m most worried about the final performance on June 7th, because there are so many great genres to choose from. I am most excited to sing the blues on April 6th.
JC: I am super excited for Broadway. Like I said, musical theatre is really my background. I would say
I am the most nervous for blues. I’ve always loved the blues and I’ve always loved singing the blues, but technically it can be challenging. I am looking forward to working on it though!
BR: What are you most
interested in gaining out of this competition?
HMB: New musical connections, publicity, and hopefully some money!
JC: I would say my self-confidence. I haven’t sung in front of a crowd for over 10 years, so it has been fun getting that stage fright again, remembering what it’s like to feel nervous. It’s just been fun having something to do that I love and look forward to.
BR: What did you think of the
crowd that showed up for the Idol event and how will you get ready for the
RB: I thought the crowd was really fun and encouraging to the performers. They cheered on moments of powerful, emotional singing, as well as moments of struggle during performances. I was impressed with the support of the audience and the number of people in attendance!
JC: I was super impressed with the turn out!
I hope that more and more people will just keep catching wind and showing their
support. The more people, the more energy to feed off! And I will prepare like
I always do, non-stop practice and having fun playing music.BR: What will you do with the money if you win?
RB: I would use some of the money to record with my reggae band Root 100, and the rest I would use for personal expenses.
JC: Well, I promised my kids if I won, I would give them both $100 for their savings and the remainder would most likely go to a small vacation spent with them and Tim!