Justin Welch was named the winner of KVHP-TV’s Lake Charles Idol Search competition Tuesday night at the Isle of Capri casino. Welch will sing for the show’s producers in Austin, Texas, next month. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:19 AM
WESTLAKE — Justin Welch owned the stage, the judges and his own song as he walked away the winner of KVHP-TV’s Lake Charles Idol Search competition at Isle of Capri on Tuesday.
More than 70 people showed up at the casino hoping to take the first step toward becoming Southwest Louisiana’s next “American Idol” contestant.
Welch, a Moss Bluff resident, will advance to audition for show producers in Austin, Texas, next month.
The area’s best-known “Idol” contestant, Season 11 third-place finisher Joshua Ledet, announced the winner. Sulphur native Michael Sarver, who finished 10th in Season 8, was one of the three judges and performed after the contest.
Welch sang 30 seconds of Mark Broussard’s “Rock Steady” in the first round, and made enough of an impression to be chosen as one of the three finalists.
“My in-laws have been after me to do this for years, and I am 28 (the show’s age limit) so this was my last shot,” Welch said. “I needed to do it since it was my last opportunity. I was pretty confident coming in.”
For the final round, when contestants were given a minute to perform, Welch chose “I Choose Life,” a song he wrote as a college student.
“It is about wanting to live and thrive,” he said. “There are a lot of people who go through life without a goal and make poor decisions. I felt this would be a good message. After the first round, I wasn’t thinking I was going to move on because I heard some good singers.”
One of those was fellow finalist Hayley Masters.
“I am here doing my clinicals for school, and my supervisor told me about it and pushed me to do it,” Masters said. “It was fun.”
Masters performed Journey’s “Open Arms” in the first round and David Guetta’s “Without You” in the final round.
“The wait to hear the results after the first round was hard,” she said. “I can’t be disappointed by anything; it was a good experience.”
Lacey Blount, a longtime fan of the show, was the first contestant to take the stage, singing Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” in front of a crowd of about 80 people.
“I was shocked with all the people in the room; I was a little nervous. But I think I did all right,” she said. “I would give myself an eight. I didn’t give my best shot because I was nervous. I think the crowd liked my performance. There is some good competition.”
Music producer and filmmaker Michael McGowan, a contest judge, said the performances were impressive.
“They gave their best; they had good talent,” he said. “Justin owned it. He had that passion; he really gave himself. It’s not just about the voice. He had that, but he had the passion behind it too. That’s what I liked about him.”
Posted By: Amanda D. Wood-LeBlanc On: 7/31/2013
Title: proud to b along ur side as a louisiana resident
Sounds like a winner im another louisiana lifelong resident rooting to have a real winner from southwest/central louisiana keep up the good work,may GOD be with u all the way sincerely,amanda d wood-leblanc.
Posted By: Janie Beth LeBlue On: 7/25/2013
Title: Justin welch
Justin you could have gone in as a young kid and nailed it....You have always been top of the class with that voice of yours...I believe...you WILL make it ALL the way!!
Posted By: Adeline Rasberry On: 7/24/2013
Proud to say he's my nephew, love you Justin