The atmosphere in the Bohm Theater swelled with anticipation.
“Come on!” one woman shouted from the back.
After a long, tense moment that he clearly enjoyed, emcee Genesis Terrell finally announced this year’s first place winner of the Famous @ the Forks talent competition. “…Lydia Achenbach!”
Lydia Achenbach, 15, stepped forward with a big smile and thanked the judges for her win. “I had a lot of fun!” she said. “So thank you.”
On Saturday, Sept. 12, the top ten finalists of this year’s Famous @ the Forks teen and tween talent competition performed live at the Bohm Theater in downtown Albion. The contestants competed for the chance to play live at the Festival of the Forks in Albion on Saturday, Sept. 19.
This year the Famous @ the Forks organizers received some exciting news regarding the competition. America’s Got Talent scouts contacted the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, asking them to identify local talent to try out for the television show. Famous @ the Forks contestants were invited to be first in line at the America’s Got Talent tryouts in Detroit on Nov. 7.
Saturday’s talent competition featured a variety of entertainment, from interpretive dancing to a rousing rock band. The enthusiastic crowd of family, friends and community members whooped, cheered and clapped along with many of the performances. The three judges gave the contestants praise and constructive feedback after each act.
Famous @ the Forks is modeled after America’s Got Talent. First, contestants performed in front of a panel of experts who choose 10 finalists. These finalists worked with coaches over the next two months to polish their performances. This year’s coaches included Stefanie Q. Wright who is the lead singer of the Motown Experience and Oscar Stone of the gospel group Men of God’s Heart.
The 10 finalists then competed in the finals at Albion’s Bohm Theater in front of three judges and a live audience. The judges chose a first, second and third place winner. This year’s judges were Amy Robertson, president of the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Alfred Singleton and Queen Bulls, an America’s Got Talent season nine finalist.
This year the third place winner was singer Liza Wolfe from Battle Creek, the second place winner was teen band Ever Rising from Jackson and the first place winner was Achenbach, who lives in Kalamazoo.
The teenager sang a powerful cover of “I’d Rather go Blind” by Etta James. As soon as she began singing, cheers erupted from the audience. The crowd continued to shout encouragements as her voice filled the theater. Afterwards, the beaming judges praised her volume and strong voice.
Achenbach has personal ties to the city as well. She is the daughter of Erik Achenbach, who works in the registrar’s office at Albion College. She said started singing when she was only four years old at her first musical.
After the show, when asked if she had any advice for those who wish to compete with their talents, Achenbach said, “Practice all you can. […] Just be really confident in whatever you’re doing.”
You can see her sing live at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, September 19 during the Festival of the Forks in downtown Albion. She will perform on the music main stage at the intersection of Porter Street and Superior Street.