HALLOWELL — Last year Lindsay Hamilton auditioned for the inaugural Central Maine Idol while she was pregnant, but did not win the competition. Roughly one year later, fireworks exploded in the skies above Hamilton as she was named the 2022 winner and received a $10,000 prize.

“I was playing with my daughter on the morning of auditions, and I said to myself, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ and ‘What would I want her to see as she grows up?’ So that was what motivated me,” she said.

Hamilton brought her daughter with her every week, and said she inspired her throughout the competition.

Central Maine Idol Producer Chris Vallee said he came up with the event in 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and wanted to create something that would eventually bring people together.

The event, inspired by the long-running TV show “American Idol,” begins with auditions, which occur over the course of two weekends at The Quarry Tap Room. After four eight-hour days of auditions, the judges meet and pick the top 20 contestants. From there, the show runs for six weeks, with three contestants being eliminated each week.

Izzy Simbari performs Friday during the Central Maine Idol season two finale at The Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Last year, Vallee said the contest involved the top five contestants each performing two songs during the finale, but this year he said they went with the top three each performing three songs, which resulted in an easier time for the judges when it came to determining the best performers.


Judges look at multiple factors when determining the best performers, including vocal technique, authenticity, stage presence and originality.

Contest winner Lindsay Hamilton performs Friday during the Central Maine Idol season two finale at The Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Lead judge Laura Hudson, who has over three decades of experience as a singer and performer, said she’s looking for confidence, conviction, competence, good audience interaction and the ability to quickly improvise and deal with any problems if they arise.

Hudson said Hamilton absolutely embodies all the qualities the judges were looking for.

“She is a force to be reckoned with,” said Hudson. “Lindsay is a professional. She’s done the work. She’s confident. She’s very good at picking the right songs. She knows her vocal range, and when she chooses songs, she makes sure that they showcase some of her different tools.”

Beyond choosing the right songs, Hudson said Hamilton, in addition to other contestants, also dressed the part when performing.

“She’s just a star,” Hudson said of Hamilton.


Vallee said the judges had a tough time deciding on a winner during the final event of the season Friday, and much of their decision rested on contestants’ song choices.

Hamilton’s final performance consisted of “Never Enough” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and concluded with “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston.

Hamilton, who holds a degree in music performance from McGill University and currently performs as the lead singer and master of ceremonies for Wavelength, a wedding band that tours Maine and beyond, said she does not regularly perform the three songs she sang at the finale.

“I wanted to challenge myself,” she said. “I wanted to really reach for something.”

Winner Lindsay Hamilton, left, and finalists Macaulay Flynn and Izzy Simbari pose for a group shot during the Central Maine Idol season two finale Friday at The Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

At first, Hudson said it was difficult to choose 20 contestants out of the over 70 who auditioned, but after awhile the front-runners became increasingly clear.

“Honestly, there were five or six that all of us judges were thinking ‘any of these could take it,'” she said. “Even though we had some people like Lindsay who are more professional and had been doing this for a long time, we had some people who had never sung before that were just killing it.”


Hudson said that each of the four judges have different backgrounds. She and Nikki Hunt both have a background as singers and performers, Daniel Taylor is a producer, and Teresa Curley Beaudoin is a teacher with a musical background.

Despite these differences, Hudson said they almost always arrived at the same conclusion.

“Nine times out of 10, there was a unanimous agreement, before we even started having discussions,” she said. “It was rare that we didn’t agree, and that’s so cool. That’s how you know that the process is sound, because with all our different experiences and backgrounds, we still came to the same place.”

Fans cheer Friday as Lindsay Hamilton holds a giant cardboard check for $10,000 after it was announced she had won Central Maine Idol season two at The Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Hamilton also commended the judge’s objectivity throughout the competition. She said that while competitions of this nature can be a bit of a popularity contest, that was not the case with Central Maine Idol.

“These are people that have no alliances to anyone,” she said. “They really try every week to just listen and make a decision. I didn’t have to bring people out to come see me, I could just do what I’m passionate about and get judged accordingly.”

Vallee said season three is on the way next  year, and Hamilton commended his work and said she hopes to see the event continue.

“Obviously Hallowell is an incredible community,” said Hamilton, “and (Vallee) has really added something exciting, and I hope it continues for years on, because what a vision. To do such a grand-scale idol in Hallowell, Maine, and with fireworks? He’s amazing.”

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