Anne Tayler Redmon was singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Spencer County Fair last month, and she’s been singing it ever since after moving on to the Coca-Cola Talent Classic semifinal at the Kentucky State Fair this weekend.
Redmon, a sophomore at Washington County High School, placed second in the Spencer County preliminary and is now among the more than 200 competitors looking to claim the grand prize.
The contest, for ages 13-21, held preliminaries in nearly 40 counties in Kentucky and surrounding states for performers that included singers, dancers, bands and instrumentalists. Competitors at this weekend’s semifinal in Louisville will include the top-three from each of those competitions, and Redmon said she’s excited to compete against the best, though she’s not putting too much pressure on herself.
“I’d like to place, but if I don’t, that’s OK, because I’ve made it this far,” she said.
She’ll certainly put her best foot forward this weekend, though, as she’s been preparing on a daily basis to ensure she gives her best performance on the big stage.
“I’ve been practicing every day and I go to voice lessons once a week, where I practice for an hour with my vocal coach,” Redmon said. “It’s really fun and she’s really good at what she does. Not only that, but she prays before every practice. I really like that she’s spiritual, too.”
She said her vocal coach, Erica Gaines, has been a major influence over the last year, and has been a big part of her gaining the confidence to perform in front of total strangers.
“Last year was when I started competing,” Redmon said. “I just started taking lessons from (Gaines) last year, so before then I didn’t really have enough confidence, but I’ve built it up.”
Redmon’s parents, Brad and Lori, have been along for the ride, with Lori saying that Anne Tayler already had the talent and that she turned a corner as a performer when she started to gain confidence.
“She does have a natural talent, which is why we pursued private lessons,” Lori said. “We go all the way to Glendale and travel an hour, but she’s well worth it. She’s very good at what she does and she’s starting to believe in herself. She’s getting there, and she’s more likely to put herself out there, whereas before she was worried what people would think. I’m proud of her.”
As tough as it was for Anne Tayler to get used to being at center stage, it’s equally nerve-wracking for her parents when they see her up there.
“It’s very overwhelming. Her dad cries a lot,” Lori said with a laugh. “I’ve told her, whether she believes it or not, but I’m as nervous as she is.”
She also said the process has shown how talent-rich Kentucky is, and this weekend is a chance for her daughter to be part of that.
“It’s shocking how much talent there really is in Kentucky. When you get to this level, it’s the best,” Lori said. “There’s some tough competition, but she can do it. Regardless, it’s great that she’s made it this far.”
Anne Tayler said she found her love of music in third grade, when she started singing at St. Dominic Church, following in her older brother’s footsteps. She still sings at mass and said Bernard Smalley, the WCHS boys’ basketball head coach, has approached her about singing the national anthem prior to home games. Some may remember Anne Tayler for the roles she played while a member of the Central Kentucky Community Theatre.
Her love of music has remained with her through the years, and she hopes to do even bigger things with her talent down the road.
“In college, I’d like to major in music and one day I kind of want to try out for American Idol or something like that,” Anne Tayler said.
For now, however, she’s focused on this weekend’s competition and she knows she’ll be ready when it’s her turn to take the stage.
“I’m really excited and I’ve just been motivating myself by practicing,” she said. “I’ve been telling myself that my parents are there for me and I’ve gotten this far. God’s been with me.”
Anne Tayler will be competing on Saturday at 7 p.m in the South Wing Conference Center.
The winner of the Coca-Cola Talent Classic will earn a cash prize of $1,200, a trophy and a poster from their winning act on the Wall of Champions at the Kentucky State Fair.
Past participants in the competition include popular recording artist Nicole Scherzinger, Miss Kentucky 2000 Whitney Boyles and actress Maggie Lawson.