By Tonya West
For Hometown News
Simon Cowell darlings Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton of XFactor's "Alex & Sierra" fame won the singing competition, de-lighting devoted fans at a viewing party in Daytona Beach Thursday, Dec. 19.
As the popular couple from Florida gathered momentum and survived being eliminated through voter participation, the folks at Daytona Beach's Cultural Services Division and Bandshell Live hatched a plan to show support.
"We talked, we dreamed, 'What if they get to the finals? Shouldn't we try to support them and do something fun here locally for our residents?'" said Helen Riger, administrator of Cultural Services and Peabody Auditorium director. With Wyatt Davis, the promoter of Bandshell Live, the two quickly rallied the community, which resulted in sponsorships, a swelled crowd and national televised coverage by Fox on the remaining two days of the broadcast.
The couple grabbed Simon's attention immediately with their rendition of a Britney Spears song, "Toxic," then continued to woo fans throughout the season with their slow and easy, sultry duets. Sparks and warm smiles flew between the two constantly on stage, leaving the show's coaches to gush over their personalities as much as their performance.
Released Dec. 11, their single "Gravity" climbed to number 10 on iTunes by Dec. 18, hours before the finals, then rose to the number two spot an hour after the announcement was made Dec. 19 that they won.
"The mothers and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles have been here every week with 100 loyal fans out there in the cold with blankets and hot chocolates," Mrs. Riger said.
The audience swelled to nearly a 1,000 on the last two remaining nights and erupted into cheers as Fox cut live to the viewing party three times during the first broadcast. Fireworks were lit off at the pier and viewers from home could hear them outside while they were bursting on television.
On the winning night, Fox relayed stories from each contestant's hometown and fans' excitement erupted again as images of New Smyrna Beach and Orlando were interwoven with teary cameo appearances of the couple's family, teachers and friends.
Just last summer Alex & Sierra graced the Bandshell stage with a performance Mrs. Riger captured on video.
"It was really exciting! The video shows Alex is really polished and Sierra was singing back up. To see her now, she's really grown in her confidence," she said.
Alex's polish comes from years of experience, many of which include stage time at the Bandshell that he's been playing at since he was a junior at New Smyrna Beach High School. Mr. Davis has known Alex for seven years and credits his and Sierra's rise due to the amount of their stage time.
"Alex is from New Smyrna, but he claims Daytona because The Bandshell is his home stage," Mr. Davis said. "They've been playing on our stage and every other stage they can play," he said. "They get up as often as they can, they get as much experience as they can and therefore they're making mistakes that elevates their gain."
Just as Mrs. Riger is excited about seeing Sierra's level of confidence rise, Mr. Davis is keen to the effect of Sierra on Alex.
"It's cool, the influence of Sierra. She was so artistic and she started toying with singing. Alex saw what she had to work with raw talent wise and told me all about it on the phone, about this woman he met on the beach."
"They harmonized so well together from the jump," Mr. Davis said. "It just got better and better to the point where it's damned near perfect."
"Some of the notes she knows now that she's working with the XFactor USA vocal coaches. They have shown her how to open it up. She's blossoming right now and she picked a good time to do it," he said.
As a couple, they've captured hearts around the globe. Their Facebook page claims "We're just a couple of kids trying to have fun, go on adventures, and never grow up. Oh, we make music, too." Liked by more than 100,000 fans, there are multiple posts that say sending "Love from Poland" and "Love from Bosnia and Herzegovina" with probably more love coming out of Brazil than any other country.
"There's nobody like them in show business," said Randy Davis of Daytona Beach and a proponent of hitting the "mass vote" button that would send 50 votes at a time for his friend, Alex.
For one 16 year old, the event was as monumental as the Bandshell is iconic.
"This is the first big thing to happen in Daytona for us," said Baylee Houseworth of Daytona Beach.