By: Dale King Contributing Writer
A Miami woman with roots in Mexico and a powerful vocal style hinting of Whitney Houston will sing the National Anthem at mid-field in this year’s Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Bowl game Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Florida Atlantic University’s Stadium.
Performing before a loudly cheering, packed house of more than 300 residents, community leaders, friends, family and Bowl fans, Adrianna Foster, 32, offered a commanding version of Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” to outdistance seven other semi-finalists in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl “Idol” competition played out at the Addison Restaurant Aug. 1.
The event raised thousands of dollars for Bowl charity partner, Spirit of Giving.
Actually, all eight performers gave it their all. Seven sang, and one competitor, Johnny Schulz, plucked a buzzy, guitar solo that ended with a few notes from the National Anthem, recalling the style of Jimi Hendrix’ memorable rendition at Woodstock 49 years ago.
Three of the eight were selected by a panel of judges and crowd votes to take part in a run-off, each presenting her version of the Anthem. Foster got the most votes in the finale to top runners-up Emma Brown, 14, of Lake Worth and Mikaylah O’Brien, 13, of Boca Raton.
ESPN Radio personality and emcee Josh Cohen said the ultimate tally was “an incredibly close vote.”
Born in Mexico, Foster moved to Florida at age 12. She has been singing professionally for the past 18 years and is often invited by nonprofits to open their events by performing the National Anthem.
The top-ranked vocalist shared that singing is her love language, and the way she communicates her passion for life with others. She emphasized that she is honored to be given the opportunity to sing the anthem of “the land I call home” during Bowl opening ceremonies.
“This has been a great night for our community – we had a fantastic, spirited turnout to watch the competition. We featured incredible local talent and it all was in support of Boca Chamber Festival Days and our charitable partner, Spirit of Giving,” said Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl Executive Director Doug Mosley.
City and game officials flocked to the stage to congratulate Foster, who had her hands full holding a trophy with a large bronze football on top. She was accompanied by her 7-year-old daughter, Maya Musquedo, and Katie Mosley, daughter of the Boca Idol director.
Cohen and ESPN on-air teammate Ken LaVicka kept the action going and the jokes flying on stage. Even Mayor Scott Singer offered a personal quip, opening the evening’s program by saying: “We are kicking off Chamber Festival Days and the Boca Raton Bowl. I love it when people vote for their favorite ‘singer,’” he said, alluding to the Aug. 28 election.
“Some of you got that,” he added.
He was accompanied in the crowd by two City Council members, Andrea Levine O’Rourke and Monica Mayotte, as well as Palm Beach County Commissioner and former Boca Mayor Steven Abrams.
Judges for the evening were:
- Kendra Erika, pop singer/songwriter, Billboard recording artist and former Bowl game National Anthem performer.
- Adam Marshall, partner of Marshall Socarras Grant, the Idol competition’s presenting sponsor.
- Carrie Simpson, professional performer, current associate professor at the Lynn University College of Arts and Sciences and creative director for the Annual Celebration of the Arts.
- Molly Vogel, theater, film, TV and vocal performer.
- The top eight semi-finalists were chosen from more than 6,000 entrants, Cohen said.
The eight semi-finalists, ranging in age from 13 to 55, hailed from Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Miami, Tamarac and West Palm Beach. Other contestants were:
- Eeshani Behara, 16, who sang, “This is me.”
- Emma Brown, 14, who sang “Part of Your World” from Disney’s Little Mermaid.
- Ava Faith, 14, who sang Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”
- Serenity Jones vocalized Whitney Houston’s “Hero.”
- Mikaylah O’Brien, 13, sang the theme from the musical, Cabaret.
- Johnny Schulz played “Sweet Child of Mine” on the guitar.
- Semi-finalist Valerie Tucci sang “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
The Boca Raton Bowl is one of 41 postseason college bowl games in the country and the only one hosted in Palm Beach County.