Teenager competes in vocal music contest in Hershey, Pa.

September 14, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - Sunday, Sept. 11, was a memorable day for Shannon Lee Draper, as she competed in the Colgate Country Showdown vocal music contest in Hershey, Pa.

"She did a super job, really nailing her songs," said her mother, Tina Draper, of her 14-year-old daughter who is a freshman at Williamsport High School.

Although she didn't win, Shannon said she was thrilled to be part of the daylong event.

"We got there about 8 a.m. for rehearsal and time to practice with the band," Shannon said. She and her eight fellow competitors got to go backstage and see the changing rooms before the show, which got under way at 2 p.m.


Each contestant was given seven minutes, which allowed Shannon to sing two songs, one slow and one more upbeat. Her selections were "Strawberry Wine" and "When God-Fearin' Women Get The Blues."

"I wore ripped jeans and a brown halter top in a country style," Shannon said.

Shannon earned the right to compete in Hershey by winning a concert sponsored by WAYZ, a radio station out of Greencastle, Pa., in July. She learned of the contest while she was still in eighth grade at Springfield Middle School.

Then a student of chorus teacher Michelle Rafter, Shannon was the youngest competitor in that July event, beating out 13 adult singers to advance as a finalist in the Pennsylvania competition Sunday.

On Sunday, there was Shannon, who is 14, one 13-year-old singer and the others who were all older.

"It was a great experience," Shannon said.

Tina and her husband, Lee, noticed their daughter's musical leanings when she was just 4 or 5 years old.

"She began singing at church and we noticed even then she could really carry a tune," Tina Draper said.

When Shannon was 7, she gave her first performance. From her earliest concerts, Shannon has preferred gospel music but enjoys many kinds of music.

"I think she'd like to do this as a career," Tina Draper said. But she added that while her husband has always supported his daughter's aspirations, he also has kept her centered in reality.

"He stresses that she needs a Plan B," Tina Draper said. And that could mean that Shannon might pursue a plan of study that could lead her to teaching music someday.

Shannon said she loves music and wants it to be part of her life in some way.

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