It was an afternoon of tough competition at the Tiffany Village Retirement Residence in St. John's on Friday, as the very first 'Senior Idol' was chosen.

The dining room at the facility was transformed into a concert hall, as 17 seniors made their way to the stage to compete —some for the very first time.

Mary Purcell was one of those who chose to sing.

"I nearly died ... I was so nervous you wouldn't believe it," Purcell said.

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Bill Taylor, 90, sang in public for the time on Friday at 'Senior Idol.' (CBC)

"Now I don't mind crowds, because I was a teacher, but the singing part ... I was afraid I would forget the words."

Bill Taylor, 90, did forget the words to his song, but the audience was quick to jump in and sing along.

Taylor never sang in front of a crowd before — until 'Senior Idol.'

For some, like Taylor, it was an afternoon of firsts, but most contestants were seasoned performers.

In the same format as television's American Idol competition, three judges rated each performance.

Dan Dillon was one the contest judges.

"We look for originality, we look for stage presence ... we also look for the talent obviously," Dillon said.

Crowning the 'Idol'

It was a tough decision for the judges, but it was Madeline Thompson's singing that got her the title and a $500 prize.

"I guess you are kind of stunned for a minute or two, but it was fun I must say. It was a lovely afternoon," Thompson said.

The competition was a success that got a room full of seniors smiling, clapping and even dancing.

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Music educator Valerie Long thinks more musical events for seniors should be held. (CBC)

Musician and educator Valerie Long, who emceed the event, sees it as proof that age is just a number.

"We think you get old and that's it ... it's not," said Long.

"We heard today that people took up the guitar when they were 50; they started dancing when they were 55. And so I think it's really important for us to celebrate our seniors, and it just happens to be senior's month, but we need to be doing this all year long."

With files from Robyn Miller.