03/09/14 — Idols in the making

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Idols in the making

By Josh
Published in News on March 9, 2014 1:50 AM

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Savannah Shoemake sings R5's song, "I Wish I Was 23," during Eastern Wayne Middle School's Warrior Idol competition. Miss Shoemake took home the competition's top prize.


jellerbrock @newsargus.com

Savannah Shoemake had the student body of Eastern Wayne Middle wishing they were 23.

As part of her encore performance at "Warrior Idol", Eastern Wayne Middle's local answer to "American Idol" held Friday afternoon, Miss Shoemake's rendition of R5's "Wishing I was 23" had the crowd singing along and swaying to the simple yet catchy tune.

On stage, Savannah was all smiles as she strummed her ukulele.

"I'm completely flabbergasted," she said after the performance. "There were so many people better than me. It's just amazing."

Miss Shoemake, an eighth-grader at Eastern Wayne, wasn't being completely humble. The competition between the seven contestants was fierce.

From Travis Robinson's electronica popping routine to McKenzie Sollars' animated styling of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust," each student brought his or her own talent and flair to the competition.

But "Warrior Idol" isn't all about naming the top performer at Eastern Wayne Middle. The 8-year-old event has been raising money for the American Red Cross since its inception as the school's fundraising kick-off. Last year, the school donated $4,800 to the national organization for an eight-year total of $25,000.

Typically, Warrior Idol raises money for Red Cross by charging students and teachers a $2 entry fee. Throughout the rest of March, classes compete to raise the most money, and teachers are given incentives to bring in money.

"I can't tell you how much it means to us," said Tammy Forrester, chief executive officer the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross, to those gathered. "You are awesome."

This year's event was dedicated to a special warrior of Eastern Wayne, Majesty Rose, Goldsboro's representative on the Fox singing competition "American Idol."

Majesty never attended Eastern Wayne Middle (she went to Greenwood Middle), but she did attend Eastern Wayne High. She had a few other connections to Friday's middle school competition. A few judges worked in Majesty's church, The Bridge, and the master of ceremonies for the afternoon, Emily Tucker, or Miss Goldsboro, sang in the same high school choir as Goldsboro's rising star.

"She was always so shy. I didn't know she had so much talent. I feel this couldn't have happened to a better person," Ms. Tucker said.

"I want to make sure that everyone is excited for her. Since Majesty can do it, then it shows to anyone in Goldsboro that their dreams are valid," she said.

And that's why many of the seven competitors jumped on that stage to bare their talents to their peers -- to pursue a dream, and for some, a career.

The first place winner, Savannah Shoemake, is looking to move to California for her musical education.

"I decided to (participate in Warrior Idol) because this is an amazing opportunity," she said. "Every step counts to singing professionally."

Her parents, Scott and Karen Shoemake, aren't musicians themselves.

"She got into it by herself. We listen to music together, but she really has a knack," Scott said.

"Her dream is to go to San Diego," Karen said. "She told me 'I don't want to be famous. I want to make a difference in someone's life.'"

Sixth-grader Morgan Gurley won first-runner up at the competition. Miss Gurley has participated in the Wayne Regional Fair's Talent Competition a few times in the past and taken away a few top spots over the years. Her cover of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," impressed judges enough to award her second place.

"I love to sing, and I always like to do competitions," she said. Miss Gurley is also looking at a possible career in singing.

Austen Lewis, an eighth-grader, sang Fantasia Barrino's "I Believe", a song that he said really tells his story.

"I always loved music, and I was taught to use your gift, or it would be taken away from you," he said.

Eighth-grader McKenzie Sollars was one of two who brought their own instruments on stage. Her shiny black-and-white guitar added to her rendition of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust."

"I did (Warrior Idol) last year and got runner up. I just like playing music, and it prepares me for a career in music."

TaTiyani Ramsey, also known as TT, performed Alicia Keys' "No One". She said she wanted to get on stage because she "loves singing and dancing. It's kind of my passion."

Both Miracle Tann, seventh-grader, and Travis Robinson took different approaches to the competition. Instead of singing, they both danced. Tann danced to "I Didn't Know my Own Strength" by Whitney Houston.

"I did it last year," she said. "This year, I want to win."

Robinson's routine featured "popping," a type of street dance that uses tight rhythmic movements.

Robinson said dancing works as an inspiration for him.

"Ever since I started singing and dancing, I've been inspired to be a better person," he said.

The winners were chosen by five judges who ranked contestants based on their pitch, tone, interpretation, technique and stage presence. Dances were judged on their choreography and style.