By Luke Marshall
Special to the Observer
NAUGATUCK — This year’s Connecticut Icon hails from Naugatuck.
Alexandra Hernandez, 17, won the Connecticut Icon competition during Southington’s annual Apple Harvest Festival. She won the top prize of $1,000 and the ability to record a song at a professional studio.
The competition began Sept. 21 when over 100 people from all over the state gathered to audition for one of the 12 finalist spots. The 12 winners went on to sing during the festival earlier this month. After each round of performances, judges and the public voted to eliminate contestants.
Melissa Ericksen, the competition’s organizer, said the event began five years ago as a way for local performers to showcase their talent.
“When I was younger I was around the music industry in Manhattan, [N.Y.]. I felt that people in Connecticut didn’t have many opportunities. I wanted to provide an opportunity for local talent to be seen and for people to learn how much talent we have,” Ericksen said.
By the last day of the competition, Hernandez had sung five different songs and was in the final four. When the dust had settled, Hernandez was voted the winner.
She said the news didn’t strike her as real at first.
“It was a shock,” Hernandez said. “It didn’t feel real at first. It didn’t hit me. I was just up there with a great bunch of people I met.”
Hernandez said she was happy to have been part of the competition.
“Everyone involved, the contestants, judges and everyone who came out were so supportive,” Hernandez said. “Everyone just loved being around each other. It was a great environment to be working in.”
This is not the first time Hernandez has won a singing competition. In August she was the winner of Wolcott Idol.
Hernandez said she grew up in a musically inclined family, joking that people would call it the Partridge Family.
“I grew up around music. My mom’s a singer, my dad played a bunch of different kinds of instruments,” Hernandez said. “My dad involved me in every type of music I could possibly be involved in.”
Hernandez, who is a senior at Naugatuck High School, said she plans to continue singing in college and hopes to make a career out of either performing or in musical therapy.
However, her next step is to set up an appointment at Onyx Soundlab in Manchester to record a song.
“I’m not sure if I’m doing a cover, but I hope to do one of my own songs, I’ve been working on,” Hernandez said.