July 24, 2013 - Oakland County Fair Idol's first-place ribbon stays close to home this year – Dana Pangori of Clarkston won the $500 prize with a rendition of "Skinny Love."
"When they announced it, I was ready to cry," she said. "I'm really happy with how the performance went."
Pangori, 14, is the youngest to win the contest, which is open to all ages and is in its third year.
"It's getting better every year," said her mother, Laura Pangori. "It's nice to see 11-year-olds to 70-year-olds, a whole wide range of singers up on stage. It's all in fun, they support each other. It's a very welcoming group of people."
Dana has been singing since early elementary in school talent shows and theatrical performances.
"I started doing theater, so I needed to be able to sing," she said. "I like to sing slower, theatrical songs, indie types."
She sang "Home" from "Beauty and the Beast" in the first round of the contest, and singer Birdy's arrangement of "Skinny Love" in the second.
"I've been loving that song for a while," Dana said.
She has performed on stage for years at school, Marist Academy, and in the community.
"I performed in 'Beauty and the Beast,' so I was familiar with the song," she said. "It was a good experience. There was a lot of good talent there."
One talented competitor was her sister, Andrea – everyone supported each other, she said.
"There were a lot of people at the fair, and a lot of people watching," Dana said. "I was anxious. I wanted to be the first to sing. I was ready to get on stage and perform."
"Then when they drew numbers, she was the last to sing," Laura said. "It was tough to see – there was so much good talent, people singing original music, playing guitars. It must have been tough on the judges."
Dana listened to the judges' comments in the first round and used their advice in the second. They wanted her to look at her song choice, and consider different styles to show all her vocal range.
"They told me to act out the words more," she said. "Everything went well, it was a good performance. I'm proud of my sister and the other performers, and very happy with the outcome."
Next year, as a freshman at Notre Dame Prep, she plans to participate in more school musicals and local competitions.
"I really love it – getting up there, showing my full range, leaving it all on stage," she said.
And when American Idol next comes calling?
"Maybe when I'm older," she said.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.