The Texas County Music Hall of Fame will hold auditions for the upcoming John Ritter Showcase on June 22.

Doors open at 8 a.m., and the contest begins at 9 a.m., continuing until everyone’s gone, Tommie Ritter Smith, president of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, said. Participants are encouraged to register ahead of time because no one can sing the same song, but registration will still be open the day of auditions from 8 a.m. to noon.

Ritter Smith said they average about 50 at the auditions, with 24 moving on to the John Ritter Showcase in August.

“Every year they get just a little bit more professional and a little bit better, so I expect that it’ll be the best one yet,” she said. “And we’ve actually had several of our contestants that started out in our little contest that ended up on the Voice and American Idol.”

Contestants will be judged based on vocal quality, stage presence, appearance and overall entertainment. Something new this year is that contestants must choose a song to perform that was either written or recorded by one of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame inductees over the years.

Contestants are required to provide their own back-up music, whether it be someone playing an instrument or an accompaniment track, or, Ritter Smith said, they can sing a capella. The winner of the final competition in August will receive $1,000 and the opportunity to represent the Texas County Music Hall of Fame at shows throughout the next year.

Ritter Smith said the competition allows people opportunities.

“It gives young people the opportunity to perform with a band that they may not have that opportunity before this, and it also gives them the opportunity to perform in a real wholesome environment,” she said. “And we offer them lots of good instructions on stage presence and all that kind of stuff, and so they learn and they learn from each other, and it’s a great opportunity for them to grow in the business.”

To preregister for the contest, pick up an entry form at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce or enter online at