Rabbit Fest 2013

Amoni Arnold, left, and Nylah Manuel, with Ambition perform in the CHAMPS Idol competition during the Texas Music Jam on Saturday at Copperas Cove City Park.

Albert Calhoun, also known as Einstein the Mastermind, was the big winner of the Texas Music Jam CHAMPS Idol competition Saturday. Calhoun performed an original song titled “Fantasy.”

“I’ve been performing and writing songs since I was 9,” Calhoun said. “I really wanted to come out and promote myself today; this is my last big shindig before I graduate. I wrote this song in the eighth grade, and I performed it here because I figured, why not go out with something people might know of mine.”

The Texas Music Jam, held in conjunction with Rabbit Fest, promotes drug-free living. The singing contest sponsored by CHAMPS — which stands for Communities Helping Americans Mature, Proceed and Succeed — featured singers from Copperas Cove schools.

Five finalists

A field of nine contestants was narrowed down to five finalists. The final five went back to the stage Saturday evening and performed in front of a crowd of nearly 100.

“The second time around, you could tell everyone was real nervous,” said Rachel Sizemore, who helped organize the event. “Everyone did really well, but you could see the nerves in each of the kids.”

Several musical genres were represented at the contest. The singing duo Ambition, featuring Amoni Arnold and Nylah Manuel, performed The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly,” while Kaleb Woodward sang “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace. LaStevia Allen sang Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” and runner-up Kiyana Mike performed Leona Lewis’ “I Will Be.”

“I just love to sing,” Mike said, “I wanted to show off my vocal range, and I chose this song because it does that; it’s a really good talent show song.”

Expansion sought

The CHAMPS Idol competition is still in its infancy, but Sizemore and other organizers hope it will continue to grow in coming years.

“We always want more people to come out,” Sizemore said, “Eventually, we’re hoping to have to create two categories: one for junior-high aged students, and another for those in high school. And after that we hope to expand further still into more specific age group categories.”

Einstein received a $100 cash prize and a free track recording session with Big Valley Agency in Copperas Cove. Kiyana Mike received a $50 cash prize and the same recording opportunity.

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