Lawmakers to show off hidden talents at Hoosier Idol

By Ashley Steeb
TheStatehouseFile.com
INDIANAPOLIS — State legislators are dusting off their dance shoes and warming up their vocal chords in preparation for the fifteenth consecutive Hoosier Idol.

Hoosier Idol brings the state’s legislators together and the proceeds benefit Mental Health America of Indiana. An event in the fall also helps fund the organization.

Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville, will be performing at Hoosier Idol as Elvis Presley. Photo provided by BruceBorders.com.

The competition started 15 years ago when the reality television show American Idol became a big hit. The organization plans to continue the event even though the show was cancelled last year.

“Just a great fundraiser for mental health, but where we can showcase our talents in a very bipartisan way,” Rep. Melanie Wright, D-Yorktown, said.

Mental Health America of Indiana works to end mental illness and addictive disorders through public education, public health reform and advocacy.

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, performed a dance number last year with Wright. Part of the performance included the dance from “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento. DeLaney is currently not scheduled to perform in this year’s competition, but that might change.

“I hadn’t given it much thought until now, but I am a ham so I may well do it,” DeLaney said. “I haven’t been offered an opportunity. Usually, our young staffers put something together and so far, they haven’t been begging me for help.”

Singing is a passion for Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, who grew up singing in his church. He is a member of The Capitol Tenors along with Matthew Barnes, a Statehouse chaplain, and John Koppin, a Statehouse lobbyist. The group won last year’s Hoosier Idol competition.

“I remember very expressly being able to stand there on the stage and look down and make eye contact with people as I sang,” Wesco said. “I enjoy doing that. I enjoy singing music and making impact on people.”

The group is preparing for an encore performance at this year’s competition.

Performers are judged in a similar form as the television reality show American Idol. The judges for this year’s competition are WIBC reporter Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, FOX 59 reporter Gabby Gonzales and Jim Shella, the former host of Indiana Week in Review.

Lisa Hutcheson, vice president for Policy and Programs at Mental Health America of Indiana, said the organization has a goal to raise $40,000 from tickets and a silent auction held on the same evening.

The Hoosier Idol will be held on April 11 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Tickets can be bought until April 4 at hoosieridol.org.

Ashley Steeb is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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