Following dreams

‘Rising Star of Tennessee’ winners get jump start on ‘making it’ while helping Habitat

Heritage Middle School seventh-grader Morgan Ray celebrates her youth-division win with Charlie Effler who won the adult division at the “Rising Star of Tennessee.” The winners each received a prize package valued at $2,200; which included studio and recording time as well as other services like teeth whitening

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Heritage Middle School seventh-grader Morgan Ray celebrates her youth-division win with Charlie Effler who won the adult division at the “Rising Star of Tennessee.” The winners each received a prize package valued at $2,200; which included studio and recording time as well as other services like teeth whitening

The organization known for making it possible to own a home is also opening doors for another kind of American dream.

As a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, “Rising Star of Tennessee” is a talent competition that offers the winners some free studio time and the opportunity to see if they can take their talent any further.

The 2010 competition was the third annual competition and was held at The Palace Theater on Oct. 23. Bonnie Beilstein, administrative assistant for the Blount County Habitat for Humanity said approximately 20 regional singers competed.

Beilstein said the event is reminiscent of popular reality show singing competition with audience votes, an emcee and judges who give feedback following the performance. “I call it the Maryville version of ‘American Idol.’ It’s a fun night.”

Approximately 150 people attended the competition. Beilstein said, “The first time I attended this, I was amazed at how well these performers sing.”

Singers submitted applications and DVDs then performed in a semi-final round on Oct. 16 to earn a spot in the final competition.

Beilstein said winners in the youth and adult divisions each received a prize package valued at $2,200; which included studio and recording time as well as other services like teeth whitening. “All things a performer would need to get started.”

She said the event is the brainchild of Sheila Bledsoe, formerly of Patch Ministries. Habitat for Humanity has since taken on many of the services of Patch Ministries. Beilstein said Bledsoe organized this year’s event for Habitat.

Beilstein said funds from the event will be used to repair homes for owners who cannot afford to hire services, a previous service of Patch. She said Habitat for Humanity has recently been rehabbing homes in addition to constructing new homes for applicants.

So far this year, Blount County Habitat for Humanity has closed on seven homes with four more in progress as well as additional rehab projects.

The goal for 2011 is to offer 10 homes to Blount County applicants.

Beilstein said Habitat for Humanity is completely dependant on volunteers, from constructing homes to raising funds with events like the “Rising Star of Tennessee.”

For more information on the competition, go to www.risingstaroftn.com. To become involved in Habitat for Humanity’s efforts, visit www.blounthabitat.org.

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