UNION — Raleigh, N.C. resident Casey Sutton won Friday’s WBCU-Texaco Country Showdown and will advance to the statewide competition in October.
The third annual WBCU-Texaco Country Showdown was held Friday evening in the USC Union Auditorium, as nine performers competed to advance to the state finals.
Performers included Tiffany Littlejohn and The Broad River Band, Heath Walker, Brad Miller, Dennis Johnson and Toby Parker, Jenni Lynn Lee, Ronnie Lipsey, Jerry Wayne Tucker, Kayla Rochester and Casey Sutton. Contest judges were Buddy Wilkes, Todd McGowan, Scotty Silvers and Toby King, who also performed two original songs to open the show. Performers were scored in regard to marketability in country music, vocal/instrumental ability, originality of performance, stage presence/charisma and talent. Bonus points were given for songwriting for those who performed original songs.
After judging was finished, Sutton was named the winner. She was awarded a $200 cash prize and a spot in the state finals, which will be held this year at the Union County Agricultural Fair on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Sutton — who sang “When the Lights Go Down” and “Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love” — is a graduate of East Carolina University, and a teacher at Panther Creek High School in Cary, N.C. She said her first public performance was at age five — 20 years ago — when she sang a Martina McBride song at the North Carolina State Fair.
Although Sutton said she is too embarrassed to sing in front of faculty and students at school, she often hears herself singing by way of Youtube after students search for her there. She joked that they are promptly given lunch detention at that point.
Sutton competed in a local Texaco Country Showdown last year, and she said that made her want to get more serious about songwriting. In the state competition, she plans to perform an original song, “One Horse Town.”
“It’s sort of my bad-girl song,” Sutton grinned. “It’s telling the ‘other woman’ to take a step back. We’ve all been there at some time or another.”
Sutton said she plans to get the song recorded and to sing as much as possible before the state competition.
Jenni Lynn Lee — who won the WBCU-Texaco Country Showdown local competition in 2011 — was named first runner-up at Friday’s competition and awarded a cash prize of $100. Lee performed Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” with pre-recorded music, and then performed “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams while she accompanied herself on acoustic guitar.
More than 45 Texaco Country Showdown state finals will be held throughout the U.S., and the winners of each will compete in five regional finals. The regional finalists will go on to compete in the televised national final, during which the winner will win the national title and a $100,000 grand prize.