ALBANY -- The first finalists in an Albany concert series devoted to determining who is the best amateur singer in town have been named following an audition Saturday at Veterans Park.
The Albany Star Competition, formerly known as Albany Idol, kicked off this past weekend with 17 participants vying for the top two positions in their age categories and a chance to perform at an event still in the works for later this year.
Saturday's audition was part of a larger downtown block party to promote the 2010 Census, which is now under way.
Tori Smith topped the youngest group of participants Saturday by singing a cover of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" that prompted an ovation from the crowd and accolades from the judges. She was in the 8- to 10-year-old-age group.
Brother and sister singers Michael and Victoria Cruse each earned individual golden tickets for the finals in the 11-14 group. Michael was one of several contestants to take a shot at R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," while Victoria sang Rihanna's version of "Take a Bow."
Cody Smith impressed the judges and earned a trip to the finals with his take on Jake Owens' "Eight Second Ride," which was performed acoustically. He was in the 15-18 group.
The other finalist for that age range, Chris Tatum, also sang "I Believe I can Fly," wooing the judges.
Sandy Meadows, who sang "I Just Called" by Stevie Wonder, advanced to the finals; as did Alex Milledge, who performed a stirring version of Etta James' "At Last."
The next concert is set for July 3 at the Veterans Park Amphitheater, Albany Parks and Recreation Director Suzanne Davis said.
Those interested in auditioning, should go by the Parks and Recreation Office in Tift Park or call (229) 430-5222 for more information. Registration is free, but is required.
To see photos from Saturday's Albany Star audition, go to the Herald's photo Web site at http://albanyherald.mycapture.com and click on the album.