Saturday, June 25:
This was a good day.
My parents and I had a long day of traveling on Thursday because of a six hour flight delay--we didn't get to our hotel in Nashville until 5 AM on Friday morning... Not exactly how we planned it, but at least it was Friday morning and not this morning.
Hey, we made it. That's what matters, right?
Everything about this round of the Bates Ford Talent Search was similar to the first round four weeks ago except for the fact that we each got to sing two songs (an original and another country classic from their list). The other eleven contestants and I had a rehearsal in the morning--with the same band members as before except for one, and it was an incredible feeling running through "The County Fair" with a group of Grand Ole Opry regulars...! What an honor that was. "The County Fair" had never been performed live with a full band before, and... now I need a band to travel with me so that isn't such a rare occasion.
It seemed like there were more nerves across the board for all of us this time. This was our final chance at this huge opportunity of opening for Darryl Worley or the Oak Ridge Boys, and every single one of us wanted to earn one of those spots.
Oddly enough, I wasn't nervous. I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I felt ready and excited to get to sing on that stage again--knowing the show would be broadcast live on the "Most Famed Country Music Station in the World" (and that friends and family across the country would be listening)! Wow. The reason I point this out... When I was younger I would have been a nervous wreck in this situation. Maybe I would have been so anxious I wouldn't be able to enjoy it at all. Maybe I would've run. There are some people in my life who only remember me this way, and they don't get the 180 degree turn or how I could love it so much today. Which is fine, but all this to say... how the tables turn.
I went into this day confidently.
The actual performance went great, and everyone did great. I went second to last this time, and I got to sing "Always on My Mind" along with my "County Fair". At the end of the show, when they announced who would be opening the upcoming concerts in July and then in August, my name was not called.
When we got back to the hotel awhile later, I was greeted by quite a few messages and texts from people who had listened in... And it meant so much. I had been singing to more people than I knew, and they had all been there for me today. They were pulling for me, and that meant the world to "come home to".
At the end of one of these messages were the words:
"Congratulations. You won."
That's how it felt. Just being a part of this event was reward enough. There were so many positives from making both of these trips to Lebanon, TN, and I'm so glad I got the chance.
Before the show, one of the other singers, Chazz Wesley, was telling me and my parents about his regular gig at a place called JohnA's over by the Opryland Hotel, and that he'd be singing there tonight. He mentioned that if I was ever in area, I'd be welcome to come sing with his band. I asked him if he was serious because, well... I was in town tonight! He said he was, so around 8 o'clock, we drove over to the place that's practically a stone's throw away from the Grand Ole Opry itself (maybe a little further than a stone's throw, but after driving back and forth across the country several times in the recent past... my distance estimation gauge is a bit off).
It was so much fun, and I think I shocked my parents with the way I took Chazz up on the offer. I told them both afterwards (oh, I'm so glad they both could come to Tennessee with me...) that if I ever have a chance to do something like that for another singer, I hoped to recognize it and do it. It was so kind of him to give me his stage and his band for a couple of songs... I won't forget it.
All in all...
It was a great trip.