Ron DeShay grew up in Bastrop and went to high school with former judge Ronnie McDonald. He approached Silva with an idea; why not have a few celebrities join the local singing groups for a blend of talents to create a show of epic proportions. And DeShay had the power to back up his suggestion; he was a former producer for the mega-show “American Idol.”
“These people are special to me,” said DeShay, patting Season One contestant Tamyra Gray on the shoulder. “When I called them, none hesitated, not even for little ol’ Bastrop.
Tamyra Gray wore a simple knit cap and scarf and smart orange and crimson pantsuit. She explained the elaborate henna designs on her hands and feet. “I had it done to remind me of who I am. It keeps me grounded.” She explained she normally chooses to stay home and take care of her baby but “I’m very happy to be here… If I want to sing, I want it to be meaningful.”
Paris Bennett, who finished fifth on Season Five of AI, lit up the room with her dazzling smile. Her words, though softly spoken, made an impact. “I’m a mommy to a five-year-old. I was the only girl for a long time, so I have learned a lot. I’ve had to learn to share! (My daughter) likes to volunteer at children’s hospitals. You learn from other people’s downfalls.Why not use my gift to give?”
Over fifty people armed with cameras, notepads and (in some cases) parental excitement waited in breathless anticipation at the red carpet unrolled outside of Bastrop’s Jerry Fay Wilhelm Performing Arts Center.
First came the local groups, the well-loved Peterson Brothers Band, the Jubilate Choir, Classical guitarist Mark Cruz, local 13-year old vocalist Jordan Underwood, Ascension Choir, Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University Gospel Choir, and the Flava Dance Group. It was hard to tell the celebrities from the local talent, everyone looked splendid in their dazzling apparel and brilliant smiles.
Ruben Studdard, winner of Season Two brought a friend out with him on the red carpet. “This is Shane,” he said, introducing the young boy who wore a matching gray suit and happy grin.
Ruben’s joy was spread across his face in his signature smile, and invited everyone to be a part. “I’m always happy to be a part of an event that’s helping people,” he said. “Ron was special to me on American Idol, so I was happy to come.” The event itself did not disappoint. The evening was kicked off with a short film featuring Ron DeShay, former Bastrop Judge Ronnie McDonald and Donald Williams, Superintendent of Bastrop Independent School District.
Local talent and former Idols performed together in an effortless blend of talents. Tamyra Gray added a few moves of her own with the Flava Dance team.
Pia Toscano joined the Peterson Brothers in a bluesy version of “Lean on Me.” Paris Bennett, resplendent in a gold-sequined gowm, joined the local Ascension Choir for “I Will,” a song dedicated to victims of the Bastrop fires. Ruben Studdard brought his famous “Flying Without Wings” to life with the help of Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University Gospel Choir.
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Chubby Knuckle Choir
Chubby Knuckle Choir “Gone” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKCErOsIp20
The Chubby Knuckle Choir 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3RwYQ_GBCA