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 Alabama’s Junior Miss, Mary Catherine McAnnally of Decatur, performs at the Miss Point Mallard swimsuit competition Tuesday.
Daily photos by by Jonathan Palmer
Alabama’s Junior Miss, Mary Catherine McAnnally of Decatur, performs at the Miss Point Mallard swimsuit competition Tuesday.

Festivities rock on
3 battle toward top prize in Spirit Idol preliminary

By Emily Peck · 340-2408

Three contestants battled their way Tuesday to the top at this year’s Spirit Idol preliminary competition.

The finalists — Nalani Quintello, Anna Brooke Higdon and Brianna Moore — will compete for the Spirit Idol title Wednesday night.

The contest even drew out-of-state competition. Nalani Quintello of Orange Park, Fla., won the 6-to-12-year-old division. A seventh-grade student at Lakeside Junior High, she sang “Broken Wing” by Martina McBride.

Judge Stanley Bradford, the Simon Cowell of Spirit Idol, gave Quintello one of his elusive compliments.

“Girl, you’ve got a voice. You can sing,” he said to the 12-year-old.

“You’ve got attitude and confidence,” said judge Tyson Hall.

Quintello and her aunt drove all the way from the Jacksonville, Fla., area for the competition. Quintello competed in the Amateur Night idol contest at the Ritz in Jacksonville, and has performed in many other Florida competitions.

“It feels good to be a finalist,” said Quintello.

She’s not nervous about Wednesday night’s competition.

“At least not yet,” she said.

Anna Brooke Higdon of Decatur is the finalist from the 13-to-17-year-old age group.

“You’re good. They’re going to have to step it up behind you,” said Bradford.

Higdon sang a rendition of McBride’s “Anyway.”

“You have natural talent, and it comes through,” said judge Mailey Langley.

Higdon participated in Spirit Idol two years ago, although she didn’t make it to the final competition.

“I just love Martina McBride, so I thought I would give it a shot,” she said of her song choice.

At 15, Higdon has already performed in many talent competitions and shows. She placed eighth in her division at the Country Music Association festival in Nashville and placed fourth last year in Loretta Lynn’s Talent Search in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

Brianna Moore of Arab made it to the finals in the 18-and-older group, singing “I Believe.”

“You’re the most comfortable person to be on stage tonight,” said Hall.

Bradford commented that he was “very impressed” with her performance.

“It feels great to be a finalist,” said Moore.

She’s not nervous about performing in front of a large crowd in the final competition either.

“I’ve done it so many times it’s like going to bed,” said Moore.

Moore won Spirit Idol in 2005 and is currently a music major at Wallace State Community College.

Eighteen contestants competed in the preliminary competition with seven performances coming in the 6-to-12 group, nine performances in the 13-to-17 group and two in the 18-and-older division.

Finalists will compete for the spirit idol title Wednesday night during the Miss Point Mallard competition. Judges from Miss Point Mallard will evaluate the contestants. The winner will receive $300 cash.

Spirit of America schedule

Wednesday, July 4

9:30 a.m. — Registration for First American Bank Children’s Spirit Parade, T. C. Almon Recreation Center.

10 a.m. — Flag Raising, Spirit Stage.

10 a.m. — First American Bank Children’s Spirit Parade, T.C. Almon to Spirit Stage; parade master, Sir Clumsy the Clown.

10:30 a.m. — Announcement of parade winners, Spirit Stage.

10 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Children’s amusement area, Ronald Reagan SOA Field.

Noon to 4 p.m. — Children’s games, face painting and events, Redstone Federal Credit Union Children’s Tent.

10 a.m. — Jarrod Neely Band, Festival Stage.

11 a.m. — Riverside Karate, Spirit Stage.

Noon — Ahead of the Wake, Festival Stage.

1 p.m. — Owing Adam, Spirit Stage.

2 p.m. — Firewood, Festival Stage.

3 p.m. —Nothing More Than This, Spirit Stage.

4 p.m. — 8 Mile Creek, Festival Stage.

5 p.m. — John Miller Band, Spirit Stage.

6 p.m. — Darren Butler Theatrical Company, Festival Stage.

4 p.m. — Children’s Ping Pong Ball Drop by the Alabama State Trooper helicopter, Ronald Reagan SOA Field.

4:15 p.m. — Landing of and children visiting the Alabama State Trooper helicopter, Ronald Reagan SOA Field.

4:30 p.m. — Compass Bank Money In The Haystack, Ronald Reagan SOA Field.

6:30 p.m. — VIP Awards Ceremony, Spirit Stage.

8 p.m. — Miss Point Mallard Pageant, Spirit Stage.

10 p.m. — Fireworks.

Bus shuttles will run from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

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