Hannah Quast

It’s got the singers, the judges, the compliments and criticisms, and while it’s not quite “American Idol,” it is Panther Idol, and it’s Saturday night.

The competition is open to all Carolina Forest High School students, not just the show choirs. Of those who auditioned, 20 will be chosen to perform for three judges.

The event is Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the school, and the $7 tickets are available only at the door.

The judges are Heather Whitley, who sang as a studio musician in Nashville, Tennessee; Stephan Williams, a voice and string major who has sung professionally and performs with the Florence Symphony and the Long Bay Symphony; and Austin Wyatt, a musical theatre teacher at Black Water Middle School.

“They won’t judge harshly but they will give constructive criticism,” CFHS musical director Kraig McBroom said, adding that they’ll keep it lighthearted and entertaining.

The deciding judges will be the audience.

The admission ticket is also the ballot, which lists the singers in order, along with their songs, and there’s room for them to take and make notes.

“It’s interesting to get those ballots back,” McBroom said. “Surprisingly, people write really good comments on a lot of them.

“They might come to the show thinking they’re going to vote for a friend, but when they hear the kids sing, they try to pick the most talented one, and that’s great.”

Winners get trophies, and first, second and third places also get $200, $100 and $50.

Panther Idol has been a staple at the high school for about 20 years, and is a fundraiser for the performing arts department.

“This is a show a lot of the kids’ peers come to as well as the community, and it’s entertaining and educational,” McBroom said.

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