(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Alanna Mills, 19, of Sikeston won the title of "Regional Idol" during a singing competition Aug. 11 in Paducah, Ky. She belted out the tunes, "Fallen" by Alicia Keys and "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston to win the title.
On Aug. 10 Mills won a contest in Cape Girardeau which advanced her to the final competition in Paducah. Throughout the two-day competition, Mills defeated 80 other contestants.
Mills' prize? A trip for two to Philadelphia, where FOX's "American Idol" auditions will be conducted Aug. 27.
Mills said she was definitely surprised when she learned she'd won the title. "It caught me off guard that I even got the opportunity to go, and I didn't expect to win," Mills said.
Mills learned about the competition after a family member saw a commercial about it, she said. She thought she'd give it a shot, she said.
Mills said she's been singing ever since she was a little girl.
"I walked around the house singing and stuff and attending church faithfully. I've been singing in schools and talent shows, and I love to sing. It's something I have always dreamed about,"?Mills said.
Mills said she likes all kinds of music -- country, R&B and gospel.
"I don't think I sound like anybody," Mills said about her singing style.
Three years ago Mills went to the "American Idol" auditions when they were conducted in St. Louis. Mills was only 16 at the time and wasn't selected in the preliminaries to be judged by Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.
"With singing, you get rejected a lot," Mills said.
Now Mills and her family and friends thinks she's ready.
"She's matured a lot since then, and she's always had this awesome talent for it and a strong will to follow that dream," said friend Tana West. "Now I think she has everything situated and that's what she wants to do. I think she's ready for it.
West called her friend a phenomenal singer.
"It is a God-given talent, and I'm glad she's finally getting recognized," West said.
Mills' mother, Veronica Mills, agreed.
"She's been singing since she was a little girl -- and it used to get on my nerves," laughed Mrs. Mills.
Mrs. Mills said she was thankful her daughter has endured and followed her dream.
"I think this is her year because so many things began to click for her in a matter of a week. Mentally, she's ready to accept challenges before her," Mrs. Mills said.
A 2006 graduate of Scott County Central High School, Alanna attends Three Rivers Community College. She is also the daughter of Ronnie Mills.
Mills said she watches "American Idol" every year. As for being nervous if she gets through to audition in front of Cowell, Abdul and Jackson, Mills said it wouldn't bother her.
"I'm a little more nervous about going to a different state," Mills said. "They're just regular people."