Country Idol showcases local talent

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

ASHLAND - The next Wynonna Judd or Billy Ray Cyrus may be discovered Friday in the final round of Family Tree Entertainment's Country Idol talent contest.

Country Idol is the search for the Tri-State's best country music performer. The winner receives a recording contract, photography, press kits, a national release single and more.

"We wanted to kick it up a notch professionally," said Creed Warner, president of the event organizer Family Tree Entertainment. "We have talent from all three states. We searched for the cream of the crop and we found them."

Email newsletter signup

Auditions in September narrowed the field to 26 contestants for the preliminaries.

Ten finalists emerged from the October elimination round.

Three local performers - Ashley Stafslien of Coal Grove; Alan Mullins of South Point and Robyn Jenkins of Otway - are ready to take their shot at making the big time.

The 29-year-old Mullins, an EMT for Portsmouth ambulance, came from a musical family and got his first guitar when he was about 5 years old. He

has not stopped performing since.

Focusing mostly on classic country, he said he is ready for his big chance Friday night.

"It has always been my dream to be a professional musician but things haven't worked out," Mullins said. "Maybe that is all changing now."

Overall, he encouraged everyone to come watch all the great contestants give it their all.

"There is a lot more talent here than people know," he said. "If they want to see music the way it is supposed to be done they should come and watch."

Stafslien, a 15-year-old sophomore at Dawson Bryant High School, said she has been singing "pretty much since I was able to talk."

Because she found out about the competition just the day before the auditions, she said she was really just entering to give it her best shot singing modern country.

After she was named as a finalist, she said she was left speechless.

"I felt really happy, overwhelmed and excited," she said. "I felt a million different things at once."

Overall, Stafslien said she has taken away two things from the event - she has made many new friends and also proved to herself that she was good enough to compete.

"I have become friends with many of these wonderful people," she said. "I wish we could all win, but we can't."

Competitive singing is nothing new to 15-year-old Jenkins who won her first talent contest at age seven and sings each weekend at the Southern Ohio Opry in Lucasville.

"I think I can make this a career," she said. "This is what I enjoy doing and I think this is what I am good at."

Though she has plenty of experience and confidence to spare, she said she knows that this is a new level.

"I have been practicing every day but I am still nervous," she said. "Which is kind of weird because I do this every weekend."

The other seven finalists are Samantha Dawn of Ashland; Bretton Powell of Huntington; Sonya Crites of Flatwoods; Josh Jones of Huntington; Traci Stanley of Prichard, W. Va.; Levi Mills of South Shore and Jordan Ford of Ripley, W. Va.

Tickets are available at the Paramount Arts Center box office for a cost of $10.50.

For more information, please contact Family Tree Entertainment at (606) 329-8733 or (606) 571-3525.