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7:50 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

Not just a competition, Prescott Idol finale contestants give great show

Erin Johnson accepts the first place trophy after winning the fifth annual Prescott Idol finale Thursday night at the Yavapai College Performance Hall in Prescott. (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

Erin Johnson accepts the first place trophy after winning the fifth annual Prescott Idol finale Thursday night at the Yavapai College Performance Hall in Prescott. (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

Prescott resident Erin Johnson sang her way to the top Thursday night and became the Prescott 2014 Idol in the grand finale of summer-long competition at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.Johnson was among 24 finalists who performed before a packed house of Prescott Idol fans.She sang, "Alone," first made popular by the group Heart."It's a fun song, a great '80s rock song," Johnson said. "It's got a big range - highs and lows," with a surprise high at the end. "It's challenging for certain."Johnson, 34, teaches choir and guitar at Granite Mountain and Mile High middle schools. Originally from Indiana, Johnson has lived in Prescott for four years.Despite the vocal talent Johnson exhibited Thursday at the fifth annual competition, she describes herself as an instrumentalist. Her specialty is the bassoon, and she plays with a variety of local ensembles, including the Central Arizona Concert Band, Prescott POPS, Prescott Strings, the Chamber Orchestra and the Prescott Chamber Players.Johnson does not sing around town, she said. Rather, "It's something I do for myself. It's a hobby."Johnson began traveling her musical path as a little girl, playing piano and flute before she made the bassoon her specialty."In general, I am a musician," she said. "I love all music, and I I try to to teach my kids to experience as much music as they can - all realms. That's what it's all about."When Johnson was declared Prescott 2014 Idol and multi-colored streamers fell on the Performing Arts Center stage, she was asked to sing one more song before the evening ended.She chose "Hallelujah," written by Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen. She sings the version she heard by Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter k.d. lang at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the first time she heard this song. "It's a beautiful song and a bit haunting," she said. Johnson planned to spend today celebrating her victory with family and friends, she said. When she took her dog for a walk early today, she said neighbors came out to congratulate her before she made down the first block."I'm blessed," Johnson said of her winning the Prescott 2014 Idol title. "I feel very lucky and fortunate. I feel so blessed to represent the 'average Joe.' I consider myself a professional teacher. Vocal is an aspect of music that I am lucky enough to teach."Over the past few months, Prescott Idol contestants have gathered for competition on the Yavapai County Courthuse Plaza. The venue for the finale, which formerly took place at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, changed to the YC location because of its larger capacity. All but a few of the 1,200 seats were sold for Thursday night's performance."It's the biggest audience I have ever performed for," Johnson said.Songs and performers reflected all styles and genres of music, and one of the judges for the Idol finale, Christopher Eubank, said, "It was tough for judges. There was a lot of talent - talent that was very well represented from our community. It wasn't just a competition. The audience had a great show."Eubank is director of choral activities of the Yavapai College Performing and Visual Arts Division.Judging categories included stage presence, vocal quality, overall talent, audience response and lyricsSecond- and third-place winners were, respectively, Matthew Lomayestewa, who sang "Billie Jean," and Molly Sutton, who sang "I Will Always Love You."The three who took home trophies rose from a field of 240 contestants, who had participated in the Idol competitions, which were part of the city's Summer Concert series. Thursday's audience demographic - all ages - was "great," said Becky Karcie, Prescott special events manager. "That's the great thing about music. It was great to see everybody enjoying it - on a Thursday night."Karcie noted, too, that many faces in the audience were those who had attended summer concerts on the plaza."It's kind of like an extended family," she said.Mobile users use this link to view YouTube video