(Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"I think people would be amazed at how good some of these people are," said Joe Bill Davis, station manager at B98, which is sponsoring the Saturday event at 55 North. "They're looking to further their career and we're just happy to be able to help them move their career on a little bit."
The event has been held for the past 26 years and is making its third stop in Sikeston. Aspiring country music artists will perform to go on to the Missouri State Showdown. At that contest, participants vie for $1,000 and advance to a regional competition. Five regional winners then go on to the finals in Nashville, to compete for the title and a $100,000 grand prize.
Some contestants are quite qualified and have opened for other acts, as well as made CDs, Davis said.
"Last year, our local winner won the state contest and went to the regional contest and finished second," Davis said.
Josh Gowan, owner of 55 North, said he is expecting a big crowd. "People want to see live, local talent," he said. "We're even opening the restaurant early so people can come and have dinner."
Jenny Tate, a New Madrid native, is just one of the performers scheduled for Saturday night. "It's very exciting, especially when you start getting up in the contests," she said.
Tate's husband is in the military. Since he is out to sea now, she decided to pay a visit from Georgia, where she now lives.
Coincidentally, the show fell during her trip home.
Tate has opened for artists such as Tammy Wynette, George Jones and Loretta Lynn, as well as made several demos.
"You hope you get somewhere doing it," she said.
Tate said she is in the process of picking the two songs she will sing. "It just depends on how I feel that day," she said.
It also depends on the pace and vocal range of the song. "The slower songs show you voice off more than the faster songs," she said.
However, stage performance and audience participation are also vital.
"You have to basically love what you do," Tate said.
The showdown will begin at 6 p.m. and last two to three hours. It will be followed by music and dancing, with a $5 cover for the entire night, Gowan said.
"People who come will be very glad, very surprised," Davis said. "It's a good way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday night seeing some great local talent."