Redford, Reed, Wahl first to advance to 2023 Gila Idol finals

The first three finalists for 2023 Gila Idol were named at the preliminary at Double R Grill on Thursday. They are, from left, Kiranna Reed, Marlee Redford and Skai Wahl. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The Double R Bar and Grill at Mt. Graham Golf Course was filled with music Thursday night.

The restaurant hosted the first preliminary of the 2023 Gila Idol signing competition, and three performers have qualified for the finals March 23 at the David M. Player Center for the arts.

Skai Wahl sang “Photograph” to earn her spot in the finals.

Skai Wahl performs “Photograph” during the first 2023 Gila Idol preliminary. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

“So, I’ve done this for four years now, and either make it to one or nothing at all,” Wahl said. “So I am bound and determined to get, at least once, to the finals.”

Kiranna Reed performed “The Good Ones” to earn a spot in the 2023 Gila Idol finals. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Kiranna Reed gave up a night of cheerleading her Pima Roughriders at a rivalry basketball game with Thatcher to perform her version of “The Good Ones,” earning her a finals spot.

“I get so nervous, but for some reason, right when I walked up there, all the nerves went away. That’s never happened before, which is, like, cool,” Reed said.

Marlee Redford performed an A capella version of “Enter Sandman” during Thursday’s prelim. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Marlee Redford’s decision to sing an A capella version of the heavy metal song “Enter Sandman” wowed the judges.

“This is actually my first year of doing it, and every year I’ve been a call back,” Redford said. “So this is my first time not being a call back and being a finalist, so I’m really appreciative of it.”

Reid Cox and Rebecca Reynolds were asked to perform again at the 2023 Gila Idol call back night March 9. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Two singers will get another chance at making the finals, when they perform at call back night at the Graham County Chamber of Commerce on March 9. They are Reid Cox, who performed “Folsom Prison Blues,” and Rebecca Reynolds, who performed “More Hearts than Mine.”

Online viewers will get the chance to vote on Kiley Despain’s performance for her chance to enter the 2023 Gila Idol finals. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

The judges also selected one alternate, Kiley Despain, who sang “Heather.” An alternate will be selected at each preliminary and, in the week before the finals, the public will vote on the performances on The top vote-getter will become a finalist.

Judges for the first 2023 Gila Idol preliminary at the Double R Grill were, from left, Darryn Kamae, Cindy Anaya and Adam Crohn. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Judges were 2006 Gila Idol finalist Cindy Anaya, who also opened the night with a performance of the song, “Jealous of the Rain,” 2008 winner Adam Crohn and 2017 Darryn Kamae. Performing during the judges’ deliberation was 2016 winner Brianna Morris, who sang “Hold Me.”

All of Thursday’s performances can be viewed at Gila Idol 2023 Double R Grill | GilaValleyCentral.Net.

The next preliminary will take place Thursday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at The Venue and Vignette on Main in Safford.

The winner of the March 23 finals will receive $2,000 in cash.

Sponsors for 2023 Gila Idol include Valley Telecom Group; Mack’s NAPA Auto Parts; Richard’s Music Co.; the Double R Bar and Grill; Freeport-McMoRan; Valley Furniture and Appliance; Tyson Richins – Edward Jones Investments; Swire Coca-Cola; Trophies ‘N Tees; Advanced Air Systems; and the Double R Communications family of radio stations, Kat Kountry 94.5 FM, Sunny 102.3 FM and KATO 1230 AM.