Brandon resident Gabrielle Ray was named Bloomingdale Idol 2019 last month. The other finalists were Thalia Diaz, Kylee Sutherland-Maxwell and Kaitlyn Whitt.

A Bloomingdale High School sophomore won an exciting title last month. Gabrielle ‘Brie’ Ray, a 15-year-old Brandon resident, competed against 17 other students and came away with the title of Bloomingdale Idol.

According to the school’s Director of Choral Activities, Jason Locker, this year marked the 12th annual Bloomingdale Idol contest run by the Bloomingdale Ambassadors group.

The contest, which like American Idol, is strictly for solo singers, is made up of three rounds judged by music teachers from other local schools, including Andrea Peacock, the Burns Middle School choral director, Thomas Desmond from Braden River High School, Miguel Oquendo, director at Barrington Middle School and Joey Canessa from Strawberry Crest High School.

“The contest is completely student-led,” said Locker. “There is a committee of Ambassador Officers that listen to auditions and select the contestants.”

The student’s musical selections can be from any genre. Ray performed Hopelessly Devoted to You on the ukulele for her first round; Don’t Rain on My Parade for the second round, where the number of contestants went from nine to four; and an Italian aria called Se Tu, M’ami for the final.

“Going into it I didn’t really expect to win since it was my first time and I was really just there for the experience,” said Ray, who plays the piano, ukulele and guitar and often acts in school plays and Community Theater. “But this experience only furthers my passion for classical music and musical theater, something I’d one day love to do for a living.”

The second place award went to Thalia Diaz with Kylee Sutherland-Maxwell in third and Kaitlyn Whitt in fourth.

The event also featured a return performance by 2018 Bloomingdale Idol Natalia Ramos.

Bloomingdale High School is located at 1700 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico and can be reached at 744-8018. For more information on the event, contact Locker at or visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.