Katrina Smith and Grace Cornelius became best friends three years ago while performing together in a community theater production.
This year they found themselves competing against each other as the final two contestants in “Schaumburg Idol” 2017. Smith, 16, of Bartlett won Schaumburg Park District’s annual search for the next singing superstar. Results were announced Aug. 3 during a special finale program.
The pair beat out 10 other contestants before going head to head performing songs selected by both themselves and the judges. For the “Idol” finale Smith sang “Good Morning Baltimore” from the musical “Hairspray.” Cornelius, 15, of Warrenville, sang Michael Buble’s “Someday.”
“I believe it could have gone either way,” Smith said. “Competing in ‘Schaumburg Idol’ was a really cool experience.”
A returning “Schaumburg Idol” contestant who made it to the second round in 2014, Smith has been performing in musical theater since fourth grade.
“I feel good that I got back in there and competed again,” Smith said. “It’s been really exciting.”
A returning contestant from the 2014 season, Katrina Smith became the 2017 Schaumburg Idol.
A member of a female a cappella group at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, Cornelius has had an interest in theater since she was 5 and loves attending live shows.
“The whole process was a lot of fun,” Cornelius said. “I’ve done theater before, but being recorded and seeing yourself perform gives you a totally different perspective.”
Contestants advanced according to the highest combined votes from judges and the community. The judges consider singing ability, performance level, difficulty of song and progression throughout rounds.
“This was such a great group of contestants,” said Cultural Arts Supervisor Beth Waller. “We had so much talent. All the singers took the judges’ critiques seriously and really grew a lot.”
As part of the “Idol” process, contestants also have a chance to work with and receive feedback from professional musicians. Smith’s prizes include a three hour recording session to create her own demo CD.
The District is making preparations for a 10th anniversary “Schaumburg Idol” reunion in 2018 that may include as many as 120 singers from past seasons.