CARTHAGE — This was the fourth year Bailey Rae of Roberta, Oklahoma, tried out for the John Ritter Tribute Showcase. Her first place honor also was the first time she’s placed in the singing competition sponsored by the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I went from absolutely not placing to winning, which is absolutely crazy,” she said Friday night. “It’s crazy, but I’m so honored.”
Rae won Friday night’s showcase at the Carthage Civic Center after singing 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 were in June, and 24 finalists were chosen to perform 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.
Linda Davis, a 2009 inductee into 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.”
First runner-up was Zac Clifton, who sung “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, 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 try-outs and coming here and showing what they can do is just awesome.”
The showcase was a precursor to Saturday evening’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Show at the civic center.
Jeannie C Riley, Claude Gray and Rodney Crowell were inducted into the hall.