Nine Vie, Two Crowned ARC’s 2012 American Ideal Winners

From left, ARC's Ervin T. Williams, Alan Albert, Justin Morales, and ARC's Colleen Rogers

CONGERS, N.Y. – “This night belongs to me,” shouted a jubilant Alan Albert addressing a crowd of 200-plus “fans” with his trophy held high as the judges named him the Adult category winner of the ARC of Rockland’s 2012 “American Ideal.” For Albert this night was long and coming as he claimed the American Ideal top title for the first time after nine years of competing in the singing competition for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He had placed second and third a number of times but the crown jewel eluded him. “I guess it was my Frank Sinatra rendition that wowed the judges and crowd and put me over the top this time,” said a proud and smiling Albert.

Soulful singer Justin Morales walked away with the American Ideal top spot in the Twenty-something category (ages 20 – 29). He essentially gave a perfect performance and the judges were unanimous in their decision to award him the crown.

Albert and Morales emerged from a field of seven other finalists who were chosen from 53 contestants who tried out for the American Ideal 2012 finals in early February. The nine finalists practiced for six weeks before the American Ideal finale on the evening of March 30 in the multi-purpose room at ARC of Rockland’s headquarters in Congers.

Returning American Ideal judge Diane Dimond, national syndicated columnist, author and national TV investigative reporter for “Entertainment Tonight” and new judge Diane Serratore, executive director of People to People, both reached for tissues a number of times during the performances. “They are just beautiful with such incredible singing talent and truly sing from their hearts and souls,” said Dimond and Serratore agreed. Veteran judge Bob Baird, columnist for The Journal News, commented that it was his seventh competition and it remains special for him every time. American Ideal 2011 winners Louis Tavolacci, Erin Reilly and Brandon Colon rounded out the judges table. The nine contestants sang one song each and were scored by the judges on talent, personality and crowd reaction to their performance.

Runners up in the Twenty-something category included Peter Brooks, Amanda Keegan and Kerri Riberio, and in the Adult category, Chrisse Dickerson, Karen Gritmon, Richard Loeser and Elisa Savino. All American Ideal finalists received trophies. The competition opened with a beautiful rendition of “God Bless of America” sung by Ms. Serratore with the crowd joining in and ended with a tribute to the late Whitney Houston sung by ARC employee Rachelle Sainten.

Colleen Rogers and Irvin T. Williams of ARC of Rockland’s Recreation Department organize and produce the American Ideal event each year. For more information about ARC of Rockland visit www.arcofrockland.org.