Chester’s Cheyenne Prescott places 2nd in 10th Keene Idol

By Karen Zuppinger

KEENE, N.H.

Seventeen year old Chester resident Cheyenne Prescott is this year’s 2nd place winner of the 10th annual Keene Idol singing competition.

Cheyenne Prescott of Chester gets ready to sing in the finale of the 10th Annual Keene Idol. She was one of seven finalists./Photos by Karen Zuppinger.

Cheyenne Prescott of Chester gets ready to sing ‘When You Believe’ in the finale of the 10th Annual Keene Idol. She was one of seven finalists./Photos by Karen Zuppinger. Click image to launch gallery.

Bested only by industry vet and former “The Voice” contestant, Michelle Brooks-Thompson, Prescott’s vocals and stage presence stood out on a night when all seven finalists brought their A game.

Prescott, who was continuously referred to throughout the evening by host Jared Goodell as a dark horse to win the competition, had made her way past hundreds of auditioners to reach the Top 20 and continued to survive elimination after elimination over the course of the five-week contest and the Saturday, Aug. 17 finale.

With a sold-out house of more than 300 – 10 percent of whom were there to support Prescott – Prescott took to the stage with the poise of a pro and brought the crowd to its feet. The finalists were required to sing two songs each, an Academy Award winner and a song of their choice from any genre. Prescott, taking a risk and singing in second soprano as opposed to her normal alto took on the very challenging “When You Believe” (a duet made famous by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston) from soundtrack of “The Prince of Egypt.” Her effort was rewarded by the first standing ovation of the evening. Here’s a video compilation of the seven finalists singing and the awards. Prescott is the first one up.

For her second song, Prescott chose the Jackson 5’s “Blame It on the Boogie,” an up-tempo tune that showcased Prescott’s dancing ability, stage movements and sense of humor. Her nod to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with a bit of Zombie movements had the audience in stitches and the judge’s mimicking the move all night.

Prescott admitted that her choice to sing in another octave and to mix a ballad with a faster song was a strategy that was helped along by her mother, Phillisa Prescott. “I knew that most people would choose two slow songs,” says the elder Prescott. “Having her (Cheyenne) do an up-tempo song would make her stand out.”

As the night progressed, it was clear the judges’ constant reference to this year’s Keene Idol having some of the best singers in the show’s history was not hyperbole. There was not a weak link in the group. But it was also clear that whoever was to win the title would have to go through Brooks-Thompson, a tall order that in the end proved insurmountable.

Cheyenne Prescott said having Brooks-Thompson, a contestant on The Voice, in the competition was intimidating but ultimately made every contestant better. “We knew we had to bring it,” Prescott said. “And she met all the requirements. Even though she’s been on ‘The Voice’ she’s still an amateur singer.”

From left, Michelle Brooks-Thompson realizes she has won 1st Place as emcee Jared Goodell tells Prescott she has come in 2nd Place.

From left, Michelle Brooks-Thompson realizes she has won 1st Place as emcee Jared Goodell tells Prescott she has come in 2nd Place. Guyon Kukalis came in 3rd.

Prescott planned on using the $2,000 1st Place cash prize to pay for a class trip to Costa Rica, but the 2nd Place cash prize of $750 will go a long way in helping her reach her goal.

When asked if she’s committed to pursuing a career in music, the singer/songwriter/musician says definitely. A former member of the five piece band Saving Sadie, Prescott says she’s looking to work as a soloist with session musicians backing her up on a demo.

While Prescott says there is no particular genre of music that interests her – she even discovered during the contest that she liked and could sing country — she wants to make music that inspires people to grow and have their own voice.

Her mother chimes in with a story about the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School as one example of what inspires her daughter. “Cheyenne came home and was so shaken by what had happened that she went straight to her room, got out her guitar and began writing a song. This is how Cheyenne inspires others. She cares.” The result was a song titled “The Man in White.”

Prescott takes home a 2nd Place plaque and $750 that she will put toward a school trip to Costa Rica.

Prescott takes home a 2nd Place plaque and $750 that she will put toward a school trip to Costa Rica.

Prescott, who’s been singing since she was 3, comes from a family of talented musicians. Her younger three sisters — Maci, Avery and Tristan — combined to play the French horn, trumpet, violin, piano and guitar to name but a few.

The talented 17 year old is also signed as an actress with Prestige Talent Agency, has appeared in several commercials and wants acting to be a part of her repertoire. She also continues to train with Rockingham-based vocal coach and mezzo-soprano Julane Deener, and plans to audition for some of the bigger national talent competitions.

“My experience on Keene Idol has given me the confidence that I need to try out for bigger things. I think I’m ready,” Prescott says.

Proceeds from Keene Idol help fund AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region. This year’s competition was held at McCue’s on Emerald Street in Keene. To learn more about Keene Idol click here.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeFeaturedIn the ArtsPeople

About the Author: Karen Zuppinger in a freelance writer and Chester resident. Her work has appeared in Vermont Magazine and Assisi's Online Journal of Arts and Letters. She is a winner of America's Best Short Fiction Award.

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