CARTHAGE — This was the fourth year of trying out for the John Ritter Tribute Showcase for Bailey Rae, from Roberta, Oklahoma.
It was also the first time she’s ever placed — and she won.
“I went from absolutely not placing to winning, which is absolutely crazy,” she said. “It’s crazy, but I’m so honored.”
Rae took home first place at the John Ritter Tribute Showcase Friday night at the Carthage Civic Center with Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind.”
The annual competition featured contestants singing country music songs written or performed by artists inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Auditions for the showcase took place in June, and 24 finalists were chosen to perform at the showcase Friday night.
As the winner of the competition, Rae will be the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame’s representative for the next year, having the opportunity to sing throughout the area at various events. Rae said she’s excited to see what’s coming with that in the coming year.
Linda Davis, a 2009 inductee to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, was the emcee for the night and announced each contestant. Before announcing the winners and runner-ups, Davis took a moment to tell all those who competed how proud she was of them.
“I know it’s not easy, but you got out here and you gave it 150,000 percent, and we’re all so glad,” Davis said. “And the fact that this will not be the last time that we get to hear y’all sing, because you will keep your careers going. Doesn’t matter, win or lose, y’all will keep using the voice and talent God gave you and give him the glory for it and just have a good time with the music, and you’re making people happy, that’s what it’s all about.”
Before Rae was announced winner, Davis announced the runner-ups and audience favorite.
The first runner-up was Zac Clifton, who sang “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me,” by Ray Price.
“I’m actually kind of shocked ,” he said after his place was announced. “There was a lot of other people that were really good, so I just appreciate getting it.”
The other runner-ups in the contest were Adri Anna, second runner-up, and Caitlin Drennan, third runner-up. Anna performed “Sweet Music Man,” while Drennan performed “Together Again.” Chase Dawson, who performed “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” was voted audience favorite.
While introducing Rae to the stage, emcee Linda Davis said she heard her sing in Nashville, and that Rae has even sung at Elvis’s Graceland.
“It’s such an honor honestly,” Rae said. “To actually see all the hard work that everyone has put in through tryouts and coming here and showing what they can do is just awesome.”