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Trio of singers representing east Idaho in ‘The Vocalist’ singing competition

Arts & Entertainment

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AFTON, Wyo. — East Idaho will be well-represented in the 2021 edition of “The Vocalist,” the biggest singing competition in the region.

Three singers, Shelley’s Heather Hathaway, Pocatello’s Keishianna Peterson and Victor’s Kelton Kearsley will compete against five other singers with a $10,000 grand prize on the line. Hathaway and Peterson have competed in previous “Vocalist” contests, and Kearsley will be making his debut.

The contestants will perform in front of a live audience, who will vote on their favorite singer and decide who advances through two rounds of competition. Pop star David Archuleta will also join a panel of on-stage judges to give the singers feedback on their performances.

The contest, which is staged by SVI Media and sponsored by Fall River Propane, gives its hopefuls a chance to exhibit their talents in a contest where singing chops are the only criteria that matter.

“We want to make sure that our contestants were in solely based on their ability to sing,” SVI General Manager Duke Dance told “When we got an audition, it was an audio-only file. There was no video. So when the judges made their (finalist) selections, the only thing they had to go off of was the voice. That’s kind of how we like it.”

Dance said that choosing contestants this way eliminates the possibility of unimportant factors like appearance influencing the judges’ selections. He also said that this year’s singers from east Idaho all have the skills to win it all.

“Each one of them brings something different and unique,” Dance said.

Here’s what he had to say about the east Idaho contestants:

Keishianna Peterson

Keishianna Peterson

“Keishianna has such an ability to control the stage, and her vocal range is at a level that I personally haven’t seen before in this competition.”

Kelton Kearsley

Kelton Kearsley

“Kelton, he appears to be a showtunes guy. He’s a performer. It sounds like he’s done some plays and some musicals, and so I’m excited to see what he brings to it because of his ability to be comfortable on stage and interact with the audience.”

Heather Hathaway

Heather Hathaway

“Heather has the experience. She’s unique in the fact that she can sing a ballad, but she also has the ability to go up-tempo as well and do something to knock it out of the park.”

What it’s like to perform

Hathaway, a young wife and mother, said even though she’s competed in “The Vocalist” before, that doesn’t lessen her excitement for this year’s contest.

“It is the coolest experience,” she said. “The people that run it are amazing. They are so kind and inclusive, and they make it a really cool experience. It was so fun last time, I had to do it again.”

Hathway said “The Vocalist” can jangle the nerves, but the stress gets lost in the rush of singing in front of people.

“I was pretty nervous last time,” she said. “But performing an amazing experience, connecting with a crowd, getting a good song that everyone feels good about. It’s a little stressful, but I really love performing.”

Hathway is also excited to get to sing for Archuleta.

“I tried out for ‘American Idol’ when I was 15 and made it past the first round and got to go to California and sing on the Queen Mary,” she said. “I’ve always been a big fan of ‘American Idol’ and David Archuleta. It’s really an amazing opportunity to get to sing for him. And then, on top of that, to have a $10,000 prize.”

“The Vocalist” is part of the Lincoln Country Fair in Afton, Wyoming. Performances will be held on Monday, Aug. 9. Visit The Vocalist website for tickets and other information. You can also follow “The Vocalist” on Facebook.