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Seville Quarter's 10th Annual Gulf Coast Idol

Seville Quarter's 10th Annual Gulf Coast Idol

Written by Troy Moon

June 21, 2013

PNJ.com

 

Fort Walton Beach vocalist named Gulf Coast Idol

Rest easy, Gulf Coasties. Your Idol has been crowned.

From Panama City to Padre Island, Texas, millions of Gulf Coast residents today all know the name of suave singer Robert Stoudamire, winner of the 10th annual Gulf Coast Idol competition at Seville Quarter.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch, as is the name of the singing competition, based on the popular talent show “American Idol.”

After all, nearly every one of the 14 vocalists at Wednesday’s finals was from Pensacola, even though the winner, Stoudamire, does live down yonder on the Gulf Coast, in faraway Fort Walton Beach.

Still, whether you’re winning over all of America or four judges and 150 late-night partiers at Seville Quarter, being an “Idol” of any kind is a big deal.

“My warehouse job is really boring,” said the dapper Stoudamire, 25, who wooed the crowd and judges with his performances of Maroon 5’s “This Love” and The Script’s “Breakeven.” “This is exciting. I’m not going to say I wasn’t confident, but I didn’t think I was going to win. There are so many great singers in the area.”

And since May, they’ve been competing for the title of Gulf Coast Idol and the accompanying prize package: $300 and an opportunity to record a demo CD at Lucky K Studio in Pensacola.

During each of the four preliminary rounds, judges chose top performers to advance to Wednesday’s finals, which featured bartenders, horse ranch managers, old-timey pony-tailed dudes, teachers and more competing for local stardom.

Though, stardom might be pushing it. Last year’s Gulf Coast Idol, the strapping Louis Butler, admitted that his career hasn’t exactly exploded since his victory last year. He never recorded his demo and once he remembered it, the offer had expired. Still ...

“It has boosted my credentials as a singer,” said Butler, a wedding singer who served as a judge during Saturday’s finals. “And it did help me get some more wedding gigs.”

Some even played with the idea that Gulf Coast Idol would change their lives, a popular claim on “American Idol.”

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“It will change my life exponentially,” said talented goofball Andrew Ferrara, 25, who finished third in the competition after wooing the crowd with a frantic, jig-happy version of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen.” “It will skyrocket me to stardom. What’s the prize? $3 million dollars?”

No, $300.

“Well, still,” said Ferrara, dressed down in cargo shorts, a green T-shirt from some pub in Philadelphia and dirty sneakers. “That’s pretty cool.”

Ferrara, a natural ham, was one of the biggest audience favorites Wednesday. He did an Irish jig, threw his nerd glasses to the floor in dramatic fashion, danced with a visible plumber’s crack and vocally navigated from a Tiny Tim falsetto to a soaring vocal bombast.

Judges were impressed, even though Butler did tease Ferrara by urging him “not to be so shy on stage.”

Most weren’t shy at all.

Crystal Pena dazzled in a white dress and cowboy boots singing a Dixie Chicks song.

Ryan Whitworth made the ladies squirm with a bad-boy bump and grind to Tim McGraw’s “Real Good Man.”

Shelby Glass, a 21-year-old country girl who runs a horse riding ranch in Pensacola, took to the stage in short shorts and toe-tapping cowboy boots for a sassy version of Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.”

Judges liked what they saw and heard, awarding Glass a second-place finish and $200.

Still, it was Stoudamire’s night to shine.

Judges said he sounded “perfect,” “awesome” and “good enough to be on the radio now.”

The new Idol was humbled.

“Honestly, I’ve primarily been a gospel singer,” he said. “But I do listen to all types of music. Music is the universal voice. Every song has a message.”

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