After finishing third in last year’s Mountaineer Idol competition, Chelsea Malone went on to take the top spot in the 2011 finale show at the Metropolitan Theatre on Sunday.

“Performing at the Met was an incredible experience, and I was excited to sing in front of all my family and friends,” Malone said.

West Virginia University sophomore and Morgantown native Malone won this year’s title, along with a plaque and a check for $1,000.

“I’m going to save some of the money and the rest goes to school and Christmas presents,” she said.

The competition began with 16 students contending for the title on Sept. 9 with the theme “Singer’s Choice.”

Five elimination rounds with various themes were held before ending with three contestants at the finale: Ellis Lambert (second place), Patrick Garcia (third place) and Malone.

The top three contestants sang in three different rounds on Sunday. They began with a song chosen by the judges then went on to sing a song that they had used in a previous elimination round. Finally, they sang a song of their choice that hadn’t been used yet.

Malone began with “All By Myself” by Celine Dion, then sang “At Last” by Etta James and finished off with “How Great Thou Art” by Carrie Underwood. Her final performance brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

“My favorite part of Mountaineer Idol was getting to try out songs for all different types of genres,” Malone said.

Amanda Hughart, the 2010 Mountaineer Idol winner, co-hosted the event alongside Matthew Boczanowski, Student Government Association.

Judges for the finale were: Shirley Robinson, WVU Provost’s Office ; Beth Clements, WVU’s First Lady ; Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History ; Brett White, operations coordinator for the Center for Civic Engagement ; and Jeff Jordan, head technician for the competition over the past four years.

Lambert received $750 for finishing in second place, and Garcia received $250 for third place. Mountaineer Idol is sponsored by both Coca-Cola and American Idol.

Malone’s name now joins a list of winners from the past eight years including Amanda Hughart, A.J. Warne, Holly Hunsberger, Samantha Bartlow, Kasey Hott, Carlton Smith and Joshua Jannotta.

“I definitely look forward to performing at events as this year’s winner,” Malone said. “It’s an incredible opportunity that I’m blessed to have.”

For more information on Mountaineer Idol, visit



CONTACT: Sonja Wilson, Mountaineer Week

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