Ephrata H.S. grad wins PA Senior Idol
By: MELISSA HUNNEFIELD Review Staff, Staff Writer
Vickie Kissinger has been on cloud nine since winning the title of PA State Senior Idol on June 4.
An Ephrata native and graduate of Ephrata High School, Kissinger currently resides in Gap.
Produced by Lancaster County-based On-Line Publishers, Inc. the seventh annual competition was geared towards comedians, dancers, musicians and singers aged 50+. Kissinger was among 15 semifinalists chosen to compete at the sold-out final performance at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre.
She qualified for the semi-final rounds with Etta James’ classic, "At Last."
"’At Last’ is a classic and one of my favorite songs to sing," Kissinger said. "Everyone knows it and likes it."
She brought the house down in the final round of competition with Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On."
"’My Heart Will Go On’ is known worldwide and people love it and can relate to it in some form because everyone has lost a loved one," Kissinger said. "As a singer I want my audience to feel what I feel. I want them to connect with me and feel what I’m feeling whether the song be happy or serious in nature."
Obviously, Kissinger made a connection with judges R.J. Harris of WHP580, Buddy King of The Magnificent Men, Valerie Pritchett of abc27 and Janelle Stelson of WGAL-8.
Kissinger, a piano vocal music teacher, with a concentration on children with special needs, knew she had what it would take to stand toe-to-toe with the most talented performers in the state.
A classically trained singer, pianist, and organist, with a background in jazz piano studies, she holds a B.S. in Music Education from Millersville University.
"I decided to audition because I had a level of confidence in my vocal ability and I decided to take on the challenge. None of my students were aware that I was auditioning," Kissinger said. "I first discussed auditioning with my daughter, who told me ‘Mom, you have to do it. I know you will win.’ My daughter, family and friends were extremely encouraging, not to mention excited for the show. I had quite a cheering section."
The judges voted on the top three finalists among the final 15, then those three were asked to perform a second song. The audience, in conjunction with the four judges, voted for the winner.
"I was shocked. It happened so fast. It was rather surreal. I was just elated! I actually left out a holler when my name was announced," Kissinger said. "There’s just no way to know when you’re up against other great talent."
"Winning PA State Senior Idol was an amazing experience. The evening was that of camaraderie, and not competition, between the semi-finalists," Kissinger said. "It was somewhat nerve wracking, but a wonderful experience. It was an exhilarating moment when my name was announced as the winner — obviously a shock factor by the look on my face. I am holding the title with honor and pride."
In addition to the title, Kissinger won a limousine trip for two to New York City to enjoy dinner and a Broadway show.
Now that the competition is over, Kissinger won’t be resting on her laurels. She was recently a featured clinician at the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association Conference, where she presented on the topic of teaching music to kids with special needs.
In addition to teaching music and piano full-time, she also serves as organist at Ephrata Church of the Brethren and music director at St. John Center Lutheran Church in East Earl.
What vocal advice does Kissinger offer to other Senior Idol hopefuls?
"As singers, we are story tellers. So, we must be able to tell our story well in every aspect through using proper diction and articulation of the lyrics. That way, our listener can understand us," Kissinger said. "A singer must be able to internalize the music and then sing with their heart and soul; sing with passion. I choose songs I can sing with my heart and soul. It’s that simple." More SENIOR IDOL, page A16