PERRY -- Ten-year-old Cearrah Youngblood sat on a couch with her mom in the lobby of the Perry Welcome Center, looking nervous.
The sounds of singing flooded the lobby from behind closed doors as contestants auditioning for the seventh annual Perry Idol went in and out of the room where the judges sat.
When it was her turn, Cearrah walked in slowly and sang “Amazing Grace.”
She thought her audition was OK.
“I’m gonna come back another day” to audition again, she said afterward, adding that this audition was just a practice round, so she could “face her fears.”
July 16 was the first round of auditions for Perry Idol. The next two will take place Thursday and Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Welcome Center.
In the past, Perry Idol was an event hosted by the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce, but this year, the event was taken over by Matt Dixon, owner of Advanced Eyecare Center in Perry.
Perry Idol “is going to be better as an independent event,” Dixon said. The event used to be part of the Dogwood Festival, but it got so big that it needed to be a separate event.
When Perry Idol separated from the Dogwood Festival, the chamber felt it would be better to let someone else take over, Dixon said.
Dixon decided to give the proceeds of this year’s competition to the Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation, based out of Perry.
The foundation raises money to fund research for pediatric cancer in honor of Macy Easom, who was diagnosed at age 4 with hepatoblastoma, a cancer of the liver, and died when she was 5.
Dixon is friends with Macy’s father, said Lisa Easom Howard, and their friendship prompted Dixon to partner with the foundation. Howard, director of the foundation, was Macy’s aunt.
Perry Idol contestants are judged in four categories: stage presence and professionalism, technical ability, originality and overall impression.
The 13 contestants with the highest score in each of the two divisions, adult and junior, will advance to the final round Aug. 24 at Veterans High School. Final contestants will not be announced until all three audition days are over.
There is an audition fee of $15, and registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on the day of auditions.
The junior age group includes those 7-14 years old, and the adult category includes those 15 years old and older. Auditions must be sung a cappella.
Winners will receive cash prizes. The adult first-place winner will receive $200, and the adult second-place winner will receive $100. The junior first-place winner will receive $150, and the junior second-place winner will receive $75.
After her audition, Cearrah and her mom left the Welcome Center.
Then they walked back in, and Cearrah asked if she could audition “for real” this time.
Dixon said yes, and Cearrah went into the audition room, looking less nervous the second time.
After the doors closed, the lobby filled with the sounds of her singing “Amazing Grace.” When she finished, she walked out, smiling.
To contact writer Emily Farlow, call 744-4225.