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Published February 21 2012

Meet the 10 Fargo Star finalists

If you go

What: Fargo Star

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Venue at The Hub, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo

Info: $5; tickets can be purchased in advance at fargostar.areavoices.com or at the door

Online: Want to get to know the Fargo Star finalists? Watch bio videos of each of the 10 singers at fargo star.areavoices.com.

Of all the singers that sparkled in this years Fargo Star contest, ten were the most brilliant.

They wowed people with their musical words and compelled thousands of people to vote for their videos posted on fargostar.areavoices.com.

On Saturday night, these 10 musicians will bring their voices to The Venue at The Hub for the Fargo Star finals; it’s where we’ll find out who is destined to shine the brightest this year.

Some of these singers’ faces will be familiar to those who’ve been to past Fargo Star finals. But the event is sure to be different. For the first time in Fargo Star history, each of the finalists will perform with a live backing band, as Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome will provide the night’s music.

After the Fargo Star is crowned, Post-Traumatic will stick around for a concert that’s included in the Fargo Star admission price.

There’s a certain sense of glory that comes with the Fargo Star title, but this year’s winner will also score a gig opening up for Javier Colon when “The Voice” winner performs at the Fargo Theatre on March 13. The singers aren’t the only ones who can win some time with Colon. We’ll be giving away tickets to see Colon in concert throughout the Fargo Star finals.

But this isn’t about Colon. It’s about the 10 singers trying to win Fargo Star. Here are quick bios for each of them. Watch videos of them singing and talking about their musical histories on fargostar.areavoices.com.

Chris Ashmore

Age: 32

Hometown: Moorhead

He’ll be singing: “Second Chance” by Shinedown

This is the second-straight year Chris has made it to the Fargo Star finals; but it almost didn’t happen. He wasn’t going to return to the singing showcase because he thought he might be too “old.” Fortunately, his family convinced him to try out again. Good thing, too, as he’s joining his two sisters in the finals to make this year’s Fargo Star a bit of an Ashmore family reunion.

Fun fact: Chris relieves his stress by singing and screaming along to music while he’s driving.

Mehgan Ashmore

Age: 24

Hometown: Moorhead

She’ll be singing: “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera

The youngest of the singing Ashmores, Mehgan says she’d be left “speechless” if she won Fargo Star. Hopefully that doesn’t take away her singing voice, as Mehgan says singing makes her feel really good about herself.

Fun fact: Mehgan says she performed at NBA games across the nation as part of the FM Acros team.

Steph Palanuk

Age: 25

Hometown: Moorhead

She’ll be singing: “Edge of  Glory” by Lady Gaga

A nurse by profession, but a singer by birthright, Steph is the third of the Ashmore siblings. But while much of her musical ability was fostered through her parents and siblings, she says her biggest musical supporter is her husband, Chaz – who she says has a better voice than she does.

Fun fact: As a sophomore in high school, Steph finished third on the balance beam in the Junior Olympic Nationals.

Jill Samuelson

Age: 32

Hometown: Moorhead

She’ll be singing: “Why Haven’t I Heard from You” by Reba McEntire

Jill is another one of the returning Fargo Star finalists, but she’s had a few years between appearances as her last time in the Fargo Star spotlight came in 2008. The time away shouldn’t create any nervousness for her; Jill’s a former pageant girl who’s quite comfortable in front of an audience.

Fun fact: Jill is a huge “Star Wars” fan and has a collection of “Star Wars”-themed Christmas tree ornaments.

Shelby Heimbuch

Age: 20

Hometown: Cogswell, N.D.

She’ll be singing: “Change,” by Carrie Underwood

Shelby’s been singing and writing music since she was 10 years old. Her music is country by genre, but Shelby says her songs are more a result of the emotions she’s feeling than the genre she’s drawn to.

Fun fact: Shelby would rather watch an old black-and-white movie than one in color.

Moonlight Aadland

Age: 22

Hometown: Sisseton, S.D.

She’ll be singing: “Evacuate the Dancefloor” by Cascada

Like many of our Fargo Star finalists Moonlight comes from a very musical family. But while singing comes natural to her, Moonlight wasn’t certain it would get her to the Fargo Star finals. She says she was shocked she made it and didn’t expect that many people to vote for her.

Fun fact: Moonlight and her husband Aaron met through South Dakota’s hip-hop scene. They now make music together in their home studio.

Andrew Donner

Age: 19

Hometown: Moorhead

He’ll be singing: “I’ll Find Something” by Andrew Donner

A self-described country boy who grew up in the city, Andrew says a life split between Moorhead and a relative’s farm shaped who he is as a person and a musician. That’s evident in his music that feels inspired by Brad Paisley.

Fun fact: Andrew found the 12-string guitar he’s pictured with at a garage sale in Moorhead.

Jordan Thornberg

Age: 22

Hometown: Walhalla, N.D.

He’ll be singing: “Feeling Good,” by Michael Buble

Another finalist from 2011 who’s back in the action this year, Jordan is a modest, polite guy with a big voice. And while music is his passion, Jordan isn’t afraid to return to his family’s animal feed business after his time at NDSU – as long as it allows him to continue working on his music.

Fun fact: Jordan sometimes likes to speak in foreign accents, like Russian.

Taylor Wall

Age: 17

Hometown: Breckenridge, Minn.

She’ll be singing: “Heartbreaker,” by Pat Benatar

Some people might find it amusing that the song Wall is singing was released years before she was born, but the high schooler with the big voice doesn’t sweat those kind of details; she just sings, and with gusto.

Fun fact: Taylor has a rock band with some of her friends that’s called Team. They played at a talent showcase in the Minnesota State Fair and placed second to a yo-yo act.

Kennedy Kiser

Age: 17

Hometown: Fargo

She’ll be singing: “Glitter in the Air,” by Pink

A Fargo North student, Kennedy got behind a keyboard for her Fargo Star audition video. But what’s key in her life is to realize there are other things just as – or more – important than music. That’s why she spent some time in Washington D.C. this spring as part of the March for Life rally.

Fun fact: Some kids sleepwalk. Kennedy used to wake up to find herself doing the splits.

Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518