Fourteen local seniors vied to become Brooklyn’s new Senior Idol on Saturday, October 25.
The competition welcomed singers from across the borough, but only one could win the title and take home the $500 grand prize.
To participate in the main event, contestants had to audition this past September in Xaverian High School’s auditorium and be 50 years or older. This past Saturday, those who made the cut returned to the same stage for a final battle that lasted for nearly three hours, from 7:15 to 10:00 p.m.
The contestants included Julia Diorio, Rafael Calderon, Jr., Victoria Keller, Andy Gandolfo,
Donald Coy, Stephanie Spatajakis, Darn/ley Brown, Gianvito Bottalico, Vincenzo Valerio, Mario D’Amico, Anthony Neve, Gagz Danzo, Lee Spinosa and Ernest Carrai. All of them sang their hearts out in front of an audience of approximately 250 people.
The event also featured Bobby Valli, the brother of Frankie Valli, as special guest judge. “His performance was spectacular and he had people dancing in the Xaverian auditorium,” said John Quaglione, spokesperson for State Senator Marty Golden, the sponsor of the event.
“Events such as Brooklyn Senior Idol are what keep this community strong and the best place to live in our city,” said Golden.
The performers faced an intimating panel of judges: Valli, Joe Loposky, the music director of Xaverian High School, and Tommy Anderson, a returning Senior Idol champion from 2008, who chose Neve as this year’s Senior Idol.
The first-time contestant performed “My Way,” by Frank Sinatra.
“It is one of my favorites,” said Neve when asked about the song. “Everybody can relate to it and I wanted to sing one that everyone is familiar with.”
“The whole community got together to get involved with the event,” said Neve. “It shows that there is something for seniors to look forward to every year and it is a nice thing for seniors to do.
“While I can’t compete again next year, I hope I can be involved in some other way,” concluded Neve.
The Senior Idol contest was started nine years ago by AARP Chapter #5055 and is now sponsored by Golden. The proceeds from the event, totaling $2,300, were donated to the music program at Xaverian.