The White Plains Examiner

Westchester Teen Idol Winners Sing From Their Hearts

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Westchester 2012 Teen Idol winner Rosie Veltri of Port Chester

By Natalia Baage-Lord

As Rosie Veltri belted out “Astonishing” from the “Little Women” soundtrack, she felt empowered. The stage lights were hot and she wore a last-minute dress, but it did not stop her from banishing her nerves and hitting all the right notes.

In front of a loud, applauding audience, lifetime Port Chester resident Rosie, 17, was named 2012’s Westchester Teen Idol on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Irvington Town Hall.

“Winning was crazy,” said Rosie, a Port Chester High School senior, who did not make it to the “Final Five” in last year’s competition. “I wasn’t expecting it. Me and the other four finalists were holding hands and had our heads down. When they called my name, I cried a little. I didn’t know what to do. I was extremely happy.”

The whole night, Rosie could not wait to get on stage to perform. Her favorite line from “Astonishing” is “I may be small but I have giant plans to shine as greatly as the sun.” She thinks that the lyric sums her up perfectly and expresses who she is.

Runner-up Rachel Stagg, 15, agreed with the sentiment, and was stunned when she first heard Rosie sing. Rosie’s stature, Rachel said, does not correspond with how strong of a voice she has. In addition, she was happy when Rosie won, as they became friends backstage.

“When I heard Rosie sing for the first time, it just blew me away,” she said. “Rosie is such a short, little person that you wouldn’t think that a voice like that would come out of her. But she just blew it away and rocked it. When I heard her sing in the first round, to be truthfully honest, I didn’t think I was going to make it to the top five because of all the talent that was there.”

Yet second place was good enough for first-time Westchester Teen Idol competitor Rachel, a sophomore at Harrison High School. She performed Adele’s “Turning Tables” and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.”

Westchester 2012 Teen Idol runner up Rachel Stagg of Harrison.

“Even though I did come in second, I felt happy,” she said. “It really makes you feel like you’ve really got something when you get that far. I learned more about myself and about performing more than anything else. I have to focus on how I’m feeling and how I convey myself and the song’s emotions to the audience.”

When Rachel first got on stage, she was nervous and thought that she would get stage fright. But since she could not see the audience because of the bright lights, she pictured herself at home in her room, which allowed her to belt out the songs, making her singing even better than she thought.

Similarly, music has always been an escape for Rosie. There is something about the convenience of music and how easy it is, she said, that allows her to evade reality for a while.

“It’s something that you can do whenever, you can listen to it when you want,” Rosie said. “It’s a very nice way to express yourself.”

Rosie noted that she would like to continue sharing her music. As the began performing musical theater at age seven and got serious about singing in middle school, she wants to go to college for music education to later, perhaps, teach children. She added that she would also like to audition for Broadway shows.

The other three Westchester Teen Idol finalists included Chappaqua’s Max Schoetz, Pleasantville’s Emily Ultan and Connecticut’s EJ Couloucoundis.

At the end of the night, Rosie walked away with nearly $2,000 in prizes, including $500 in cash. She also won gift certificates from the Sam Ash music store and the Pocket Songs karaoke store. In addition, she was granted a set of professional headshots and free music lessons.


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