Lake Geneva’s Genevieve Hayward (middle) receives applause after winning the 2017 Diva Quest competition. At her left is third runner-up Jenna Terrell and at her right is event co-organizer Lisa Mushel. (Jennifer Eisenbart photo)

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff Writer

It wasn’t the first time Genevieve Heyward had tried for the Riverport Chorus DivaQuest crown, but it will be the last.

Heyward, a senior at Lake Geneva Badger High School, used her final year of eligibility – and a jazzy approach to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” – to win the annual contest and a $1,000 scholarship Saturday night at Veterans Terrace in Burlington.

Riverport Chorus hosts the event annually, with 10 high school performers competing for scholarship money. Hayward was the first runner-up three years ago when she competed as a freshman.

The first runner-up Saturday night was Abby Shreve of Shoreland Lutheran High School, with Rachel Gebel of Burlington the second runner-up. The third runner-up was Jenna Terrell of Elkhorn, while the fourth runner-up was Emma Perrine of Wilmot.

Each of the 10 finalists was given a chance to sing a solo of her choice, and the competitors’ choices varied widely. Terrell sang the Aerosmith classic “Dream On,” while Gebel drew some of the loudest applause of the night by tackling “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera.

Heyward, though, picked up the Postmodern Jukebox version of “Blank Slate,” which takes an early 20th century jazz approach to the pop song.

“It felt really good to sing and was very comfortable for me,” said Heyward, who has been singing in area competitions and music venues for the last four years. “I thought it was such a cool version of a pop song, plus I love singing jazz.”

When Shreve – who sang “In His Eyes” from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde – was announced as the runner up, it took Terrell telling Heyward she won for the moment to sink in.

“It took a moment to process everything and was a little shocking but it was a amazing moment – a lot of adrenaline,” Heyward said.

Heyward is planning on taking the next year to work on her music. She is finishing recording her first album.

The other five finalists who did not place were Sierra Bouchard and Sheridan Hurtig representing Mundelein, Ill., High School, Loriann Bowdish of Alden-Hebron, Ill., High School, Katherine Picazo of Burlington High School and Cassie Schneider of Westosha Central.



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