Aubrey Haddard of Gardiner one of three finalists in Hudson Valley Voice competition

Aubrey Haddard.

Gardiner’s Aubrey Haddard, 18, has made it to the final round of the Hudson Valley Voice competition, one of the largest vocal competitions in New York State. What began in May with more than 1,000 aspiring contestants is now down to the final three, with blues singer and Gardiner hometown gal Haddard being among that elite group.
“I can’t believe I made it this far,” said Haddard, who graduated from New Paltz High School and then took a trip to Senegal, where she taught elementary school in a small village for eight months as part of the Global Citizen Year program.
The winner of the Hudson Valley Voice contest will bring home $10,000 and a two-year free lease on a new Subaru, according to the website at While winning would certainly be a personal and financial boon to the recent high school graduate, for Haddard, the experience and making it as far as she has is a victory in and of itself.
“I’m honored to be where I am and to have competed with so many wonderful artists,” she said. “I’ve made so many incredible connections with people who were right in my backyard: dedicated, talented musicians who have just helped to increase my support network of family and friends and artists.”
As a small-town girl who works at the Village Market in the center of town, Haddard has been overwhelmed by the “community support for me. Every day so many people come into the Village Market and congratulate me on making it so far, asking how to vote for me, even coming to the live show. It’s really moving.”
The voice competition takes place every Friday evening at the Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club ballroom in the Village of Saugerties. “It’s an incredible place to perform: The acoustics are amazing and the ballroom is just so elegant,” said Haddard, who now has to prepare three songs for the final round this coming Friday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.
Last week, the top six contestants performed two songs and were able to work their arrangements with the John Werking Quartet, the house band for the show. “It was fabulous getting to work with him,” she said. “But it’s hard, because every week you see more people go. It’s stressful! And there have been amazing competitors.”
The Blues Diva, as she’s known on the show, performed Etta James’s “Rather Go Blind” and the Supremes’ “Come See about Me” last week, which helped to push her into the final round.
According to Haddard, the three judges have 75 percent sway over who goes through, and then individuals who can text their votes for their favorite performers have 25 percent power. “Obviously you can watch it live in the ballroom, and I’ve been so fortunate to have a great showing of supporters there. But you can also watch it live-streamed on the website and then vote for your favorite via text.”
While trying out for the Hudson Valley Voice started out on a whim, Haddard is thrilled that she has done it. “I heard about it through a friend, and everyone encouraged me to just try it since I love to sing and perform, and I thought, ‘Why not? It’s only a 30-second á capella audition and it’s free. Nothing to lose!’”
As each round passed, the performances became longer, contestants were allowed to have an accompanist or play an instrument; and now, the final three have three songs to perform to convince the judges and the viewers that they merit being crowned the “Voice of the Hudson Valley.” “It’s going to take a lot of work and preparation,” admitted Haddard, who has not yet completely settled on her selections. She knows that she wants to do one original, but is keeping a lid on the short list of her other two choices.
Some of Haddard’s greatest artistic influences include Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Carole King, Norah Jones and particularly Susan Tedeschi. “I just love all of the women who make blues sexy and strong and new.”
While in the top three, Haddard harkens back to her beginning days as a vocalist. “I’ve always loved to sing, but it was really my sixth-grade music teacher [the recently retired Charlie Seymour] who got me involved,” she recalled. As part of Seymour’s Middle School Rock & Soul Review, Haddard was handed a tambourine and just played along with the band. “One of the vocalists couldn’t perform, and so he said, ‘Step up to the mic’ — and I’ve never stepped down!”
To vote for Haddard, text HV14 to 828-88. To learn more about her, watch a video of her performances, see her competition or watch the final round live-streamed, go to