On April 23, 10 young finalists will compete for a chance to win Dunwoody Idol, a local singing competition held during the city’s annual Lemonade Days Festival. 

The Dunwoody Preservation Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Dunwoody, announced the dates of the festival back in February. Potential contestants for the singing competition auditioned in March and were announced in early April.

Ahead of the festival, Reporter Newspapers talked to the ten hopefuls looking to win big on Saturday. These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. 

Julieta Rosales.

Name: Julieta Rosales
Age: 10 years old
School: Timber Ridge Elementary

When did you start singing?

JR: I started singing when I was around three. I was listening to the radio and that sort of stuff, and I was like, this is cool!

What do you love most about singing? 

JR: I love the variety of styles and the variety of artists, and I think it’s very interesting that there’s different styles. Every artist has something new. The reason that I love it so much is because when I learned that I was like, this is so interesting, because I always loved it. I always really, really wanted to, I don’t know, be famous or something. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

JR: Honestly, I wasn’t at the audition. What happened was my mom found out about it, and we already had a game that day of soccer. So I couldn’t go, but when my mom found out she texted the email address of the person who’s directing it. She was like, hey so my daughter – she’s a really good singer, and she really wants to be a part of this. 

Gina Pezzia (Julieta Rosales’ mom): What happened is that Julieta plays soccer competitively at a club here in Georgia. She broke her foot, so she had to stop playing soccer for three weeks … before she signed up to play soccer, she was singing a lot more and she was doing a lot of concerts, but since soccer started she truly doesn’t have a lot of time. So she sings all the time at home, but she’s not doing any kind of formal training … so when she broke her foot it gave us the perfect excuse and opportunity to do what she likes to do also. So that’s why we were late for the audition and we sent a video. 

What are you planning on singing for the competition? 

JR: I’m going to be singing “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo. She’s my idol, she’s the sweetest person I know. Before Olivia Rodrigo even started to sing and released her album, I watched her series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” and I thought it was really cool. Then when her album came out, I was like, oh my gosh, and I immediately started listening to it. 

Anna Jean Lower.

Name: Anna Jean Lower
Age: 14 years old
School: Peachtree Middle School

When did you start singing?

AJL: I’ve sung for as long as I can remember, probably since I could talk. 

What do you love most about singing? 

AJL: It’s a way of expressing emotions for different things, and it’s unlike any other way of expression. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

AJL: I was nervous, but the judges who were in the room were very nice. I mean, you just have to sing.

How did you feel when you found out you had been selected?

AJL: I was super excited and a little surprised. 

Why were you surprised?

AJL: I don’t think I thought about how it would feel to get in, you know?

What are you planning on singing for the competition?

AJL: I’m planning on singing a different version of “Stand By Me.” 

Anshula Phadke.

Name: Anshula Phadke
Age: 13 years old
School: Peachtree Middle School

When did you start singing?

AP: I started singing at a very young age. I think I always had this kind of love for the arts, and my mom, she really introduced me to singing and I think the first time I just realized this is something I really want to do. I found that moment of really what I want to do, I found this connection to it. It makes me feel very free. 

What do you love most about singing? 

AP: I think part of that being free feeling, and also to sing in front of an audience is probably one of my favorite parts. I love seeing people’s faces and how they can in some way connect to the song or the performance, and it really makes me happy to know I can extend this effect on people. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

AP: This is actually my second year doing this, so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect. I was still a little bit nervous because I always get nervous at auditions, but I just told myself just to do my best and have fun.

Did you make it to the competition last year?

AP: Yes, I did make it to the competition. 

What are you planning on singing for the competition?

AP: I’m planning on singing a song called “Dream It Possible” by Jane Zhang. 

Grace Jacob.

Name: Grace Jacob
Age: 14 years old
School: Holy Redeemer Catholic School

When did you start singing?

GJ: I’ve always loved singing, ever since I was a little kid. I really started to grow in my singing when I joined my music school, North Fulton School of Music. That was seven years ago, so I’ve been singing for half of my life in that school. I have an amazing voice teacher who has helped me over the years, so that really helped me spark my passion for singing. 

What do you love most about singing?

GJ: I think it’s just releasing all of the emotion. If you ever have emotions stored up inside, when you sing it’s like letting all that go. You’re kind of in another world. I just like to close my eyes and just let it all go and really let my passion for singing take over. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

GJ: I was a little nervous. I have experience with auditions. I do dance auditions … and singing auditions, I’ve done that before for a competition. But other than that, I was feeling really excited too.

How did you feel when you found out you had been selected? 

GJ: I was so excited. One of the things that really made me interested in Dunwoody Idol was the fact that I was going to be performing with a live band, so when I found out, I was just over the moon.

What are you planning on singing for the competition?

GJ: I’m singing “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban. 

Maria Deirisarri

Name: Maria Deirisarri
Age: 16 years old
School: Blessed Trinity Catholic School 

When did you start singing?

MD: I began singing at a very, very young age. I think I’ve been doing this for over 10 years. I actually started out with piano and then after that class, I turned to my mom, and I go, I think singing is my thing. So we started private lessons, and it’s been a good while. 

What made you say that to you mom? What do you love most about singing?

MD: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t really remember, but right now it’s the best way that I know how to process emotions. I can get it out, and I also help others understand what I’m feeling. I can make other people cry. Singing is probably my favorite thing in the whole world. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

MD: I walked in feeling pretty confident, and then I got a little nervous when the phone connector didn’t start working – I was like, ah! But then, it was a really nice little room, so I did feel comfortable and I was doing my thing. 

How did you feel when you found out you had been selected?

MD: I was very happy. I saw the email, and I was rejoicing in my room. I was really excited because I know I’m going to have a good time to practice, and the band and all that. 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition?

MD: I am planning on singing “Skyfall” by Adele. 

Ella Sandrock.

Name: Ella Sandrock
Age: 14 years old
School: Saint Francis Middle School 

When did you start singing?

ES: Probably since I was able to talk. I heard music on the radio and I was inspired, so I started singing. I guess it just kind of stuck with me forever.

What do you love most about singing?


ES: The rhythm and the melody to it. It just puts me in a happier place. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

ES: I was a little nervous, but I also let all my emotion out into the song. When I put all my emotion into it, I feel like I do really well. I was just a little nervous, because I didn’t know what they would think of me. 

How did you feel when you found out you had been selected?

ES: I was really excited. I called my mom, and we were really excited together. 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition? 

ES: I’m singing “Honey, Honey” from “Mamma Mia.” It’s one of my favorites. 

Lauren Schroeder.

Name: Lauren Schroeder
Age: 13 years old
School: St. Jude the Apostle Catholic School

When did you start singing?

LS: I started singing probably in fourth or third grade, because one of my friends was in the choir at our church and I wanted to join. So I tried it, and I started to figure out that I was kind of good at singing, so I just kept pursuing it. 

What do you love most about singing?

LS: It was pretty easy for me, and it came naturally. For example, I’m not very good at piano, although I have to do that to be a singer. But singing has always been very easy for me, so it was easier to pursue than other things. I was just naturally good at it, and it was really fun to play around with my voice and all the different things I could do. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

LS: I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m not very confident in myself a lot, and I had a cold so we had to submit a video that was from a wedding that I sang at – my cousin’s wedding. I think I could have done better. I’m very self-critiquing, I guess you could say. So I was very nervous. I didn’t think I would get in. 

How did you feel when you found out you had been selected?

LS: I was very surprised, but I was extremely happy. 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition?

LS: I’m singing “Never Enough” by Loren Allred.

Liza Horne.

Name: Liza Horne
Age: 13 years old
School: Saint Francis Middle School

When did you start singing?

LH: I started singing at a very young age, and I started because I was just in love with it. It was something to do and something to connect with my family.

What do you love most about singing?

LH: All of the practice, and the notes, and the rhythm. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

LH: I was so nervous and I was so scared that I would mess up. I was just so nervous. I thought I wouldn’t make it. 

How did you feel when you found out that you had been selected?

LH: When I found out that I did, I was so excited. I ran and told all of my friends. I was like, oh my gosh I made it! 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition?

LH: I’m planning on singing “Prom Queen” by Beach Bunny.

 

Ananda Muñoz Salas.

Name: Ananda Muñoz Salas
Age: 17 years old
School: Dunwoody High School

When did you start singing?

AMS: I actually started at a very young age. I was around four when I started singing, but I joined my first choir at age nine or 10, I would say.

What do you love most about singing?

AMS: I consider it my way of expressing energy that I didn’t get to use throughout the day. My initial passion was the piano when I was a kid, but after I moved to the States, I had to stop playing the piano so I joined chorus in my middle school. I kept on going because I found out that I was capable of improving as a vocalist, and now I am pursuing a profession as a choir director. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

AMS: The way I landed onto Dunwoody Idol was different to an audition, I’m going to be honest. One of the contestants who participated in the auditions eventually had to leave the event. So my friend who was part of a band who is actually going to play in the Lemonade Days contacted me and asked me if I was interested in filling in for the previous contestant. I said yes, because I saw it as a great opportunity. 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition?

AMS: I am planning on singing “Break My Stride.” It’s an 1980s song by Matthew

Wilder. 

Nia Alicea.

Name: Nia Alicea
Age: 13 years old
School: Peachtree Middle School 

When did you start singing? 

NA: I started singing around the age of three, I think. I’m not exactly sure why I started singing, but I’m sure it was because I was inspired by somebody on the radio. 

What do you love most about singing?

NA: It makes me happy and it’s my escape. 

Were you nervous during the audition? How did you feel?

NA: I was very nervous because it was my first time trying out, and I wasn’t ready. But I got the part as one of the Dunwoody Idols. 

How did you feel when you found out that you had been selected?

NA: I was filled with joy. I was jumping up and down, calling everybody I knew. 

Do you know what you’re planning on singing for the competition?

NA: I’m going to be singing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.