Jeff Stewart and the folks at the Comanche National Bank and I are on a mission to find great stories about great kids and to bring those stories to you right here on texansunited.com. Last month, I wrote about Comanche High School journalism students who work so hard to grind out an online school newspaper each and every month under the leadership of Mrs. Leanne Ingram and student editor Madison Hagood.
Today, it was a another successful student that drew my attention, this time to the Comanche middle school building, where I met with 5th grader Makenna Carr. Of course, I wanted to know all about her latest experiences as a vocalist…and I knew she’d had some BIG experiences for an 11 year old who really had not been performing all that long!
“I really haven’t been singing in public very long. I actually just started last year when my sister was baptized. She asked me if I would sing for her baptism, and the church said that I could. I think they just said yes because they thought it would be sweet,” she grinned impishly, making it impossible for me not to laugh.
“And when they heard you, they realized that you have a set of pipes?” I asked
My answer was another grin. Makenna has been singing in church ever since…with absolutely no intention of ever entering a vocal contest, no intention of entering a contest in Houston, and certainly no intention of entering a contest at a rodeo/stock show of all places. She has never shown an animal in her life!
But then fate, as it is prone to do, intervened in the form of Kori Sides and Jodi Gaines, who both have roles each year in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and they told Makenna’s mom, Tracey, that they believed that she should enter the Rodeo Rock Star competition, a contest held each year in conjunction with the rodeo and stock show.
Tracey wasn’t at all sure that this was the thing for her daughter, but Makenna was all about it even though “I didn’t think I had a chance to make it in, but I thought it would be fun to at least send in a video.”
That is how the initial audition is conducted, via video.
“We went ot Danny Bingham’s studio, and we recorded a video there. The song I auditioned with was Titanium. Danny recorded the piano trax, and then we made the video to that.”
And that was that. The video was mailed in, and the wait began. It would be from the video audition that the top 10 contestants would be chosen. Everyone knew that it was a long shot. The contest was for contestants age fifteen and under, and Makenna was barely eleven. There’s a lot of difference in the maturity level and the voice control of an eleven year old and a fifteen year old. (Actually, Makenna was still ten at the time she made the video!)
After what seemed like a very long time, according to Makenna, the list of contestants who had made it through to the other side was posted to the online site and believe it or not, the name Makenna Carr was on the list!
The next phase of the competition demanded that Makenna make the trip to Houston, where this time she would compete in person. Since the actual contest judges had not heard her sing Titanium, Makenna decided to perform that song again as she tried to make it into the top 5, and she did!
“I was surprised to be in the top 10. I was amazed to be in the top 5! They called all 10 of us up to the stage and then told us to step forward when they called our names. Then, they called 5 names. I was in the top 5!”
The next week those five contestants had to go back to Houston and sing again for the judges. This time, Makenna performed Girl on Fire, and “the judges said a lot of good things. They told me that they liked my mic technique and that I have a really powerful voice. One said that he was surprised that I even got up there because when he was eleven, he was afraid to even wear bright colored shoes much less to stand in front of people.”
Makenna did not make it into the top three, falling to the girls who had much, much more experience, but she does plan to be back on that stage competing again in the future! She also tells me that she learned quite a lot from the experience.
“I learned to try my hardest at what I do. I didn’t make it to the top three, but I was so happy to be in the top five, when I never even dreamed I could even make it to the top ten. I call this my hobby because for me it is all for fun so I might not ever be the performer the other girls are. I also compete in gymnastics, UIL, softball, basketball, and volleyball.
“The girl who won the contest trains nonstop. She takes voice and fiddle lessons every week, and performing is her life; it’s what she does. I love to perform, but it’s never going to be my life. My life is about too many other things,” she smiled, looking for all the world as if she knows exactly what every one of those other things are.
And from here at United and from the Comanche National Bank we send out a huge congrats to Makenna. She’s made us all very proud!