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Finals of Crucian Summer Star Competition Coming Friday

Aug 21, 2007 — After weeks of eliminations, six female finalists will compete this weekend for a chance to produce their own record, perform at an Island Center event and win $1,500 in the First Express Crucian Summer Star event.
"There is a lot of talent on St. Croix, and we wanted to see if we could get some of them to come out and get some exposure," said coordinator Eugene "Doc" Petersen. The competition is sponsored by the Island Center for the Performing Arts and First Express.
As the president of Island Center's board of directors, Petersen has seen many talented Crucians come through. Modeling his competition on the popular "American Idol" television show, Petersen and 15 contestants went through four weeks of eliminations to come to this point.
Maria Carmona, 24, was 13 before she sang in front of an audience. "I was shy as a younger person, but not now," she said. Carmona's musical genre of choice is reggae, and she is known for chanting and voicing. She hopes the competition will help people see that she can sing as well.
"You only have one opportunity to show what you do best," she said.
Tyiesha Benjamin, 19, didn't let anyone know she could sing until she was in fourth grade. If it weren't for her friend being a nervous wreck before a performance, Benjamin might have kept her talent a secret longer.
"I was shy," she said, admitting it is still hard for her to get up on stage. During her first performance in the competition, she said, "I felt like an earthquake was going on inside my body.”
It was in church at the tender age of 4 that Elizabeth Nieves, 17, realized that she loved to sing. But more than singing, she loved to perform. Nieves hopes to be able to perform as much as possible in the future. As Celine Dion's number-one fan, Nieves chooses R&B ballads as her musical genre of choice. The St. Croix Educational Complex student said the training she received from the vocalists and musicians was invaluable.
Isabella Sylvester, 16, realized her talent at age 5. It was about that time that her school's principal encouraged her to sing at school functions. Although Sylvester has been singing for many years, the Central High School student said she doesn't "like to boast" about her ability, and has refrained from singing in front of an audience.
"I'm too shy to sing in front of people," she said, calling the competition a challenge that has given her more confidence. "I'm starting to get accustomed to it.”
Over the weeks of the competition, spectators have seen the girls' ability grow and their nervousness become less pronounced. Tony Anthony, branch manager of First Express Frederiksted, has been in the audience for almost all of the eliminations.
"During the first show it was obvious the contestants were nervous," he said. "There has been a lot of growth from day one to the semifinals."
The First Express Crucian Summer Star will hold its final show at 8 p.m.
Friday at Island Center. Contestants Chantal Harrigan and Kristina Sarran will join the other four ladies in competition.
For ticket information, contact Island Center for the Performing Arts at 692-5603.
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