I saw this article in one of our local (Cleveland, Tennessee) newpapers last week. It is about a local girl trying out for American Idol.September 20, 2006
Clevelander Enters American Idol Competition
by B. Jay Johnson
The family of 20-year old Trista Bearden thinks she's destined for stardom. In fact, "Destiny" is one of the songs the Cleveland State Community College student rehearsed for months, as she prepared for her American Idol audition.
Bearden was glowing with excitement at her home Saturday morning as she finished packing her suitcases. In a couple of hours, she would be on an airplane for the very first time and on her way to Seattle, Washington. That's where the latest round of Idol auditions were to take place Tuesday.
The talented singer wanted to audition for American Idol two years ago but couldn't afford the travel expenses. Last year, she had planned to audition in Memphis but Hurricane Katrina put a stop to that. The auditions were cancelled because of the devastating blow the deadly storm delivered to the gulf coast region.
But the third time turned out to be the charm for Bearden - thanks to her boyfriend, Jon Bessom. Bessom gave Bearden the surprise of her life when he called her one day and asked her to come over for a visit. When she arrived, she found two airline tickets to Seattle placed on the sofa. Bearden says she couldn't believe her eyes.
"I started crying at first," she says, "and told him we couldn't afford it." But Bessom wasn't about to back down. "He told me that my dreams were his dreams," she adds. And so, the trip was on.
Bearden's family says she has been singing for as long as they can remember. Her grandfather, Bernie Honaker, says he knew she had a very special gift from the very beginning. "She has such a beautiful voice," he says, "and it's been amazing watching her talent develop and mature over the years."
Bearden's mother, Jane, says she often cries when her daughter sings. She says it touches her soul so deeply she can hardly explain it. "I'm very proud of her," she says, "and I've always told her to follow her dreams.
That's exactly what Bearden is doing this week in Seattle. She's dreaming of making the cut there and advancing to Hollywood where she will be judged by the infamous American Idol panel of judges -- Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Before that, she must win over two or three panels of producers and convince them she has what it takes to be a star.
On Saturday, Trista said she is considering several songs for the audition. It appears that Jim Brickman's "Destiny" is her top choice. But she hadn't ruled out "Somewhere Down The Road" by Barry Manilow. She was also considering a song by Gloria Estefan called "Reach."
No one is more proud of Bearden than her grandmother, Terry Honaker. The Honakers drove Bearden to the airport Saturday and are among her biggest fans. Mrs. Honaker remembers a time when Bearden touched the family in a very special way.
"She came out on stage and performed 'Ave Maria'" she says, "and it surprised us all. We had no idea she was going to do it." That performance took place at St. Therese Catholic Church during the holiday season.
Bearden is no stranger to the stage. She performed in the choir and show choir at Walker Valley High School. She graduated from the school with honors two years ago.
Bearden is studying to be a veterinarian at Cleveland State and currently works at Classic Pets on Keith Street. She says it's hard to say what comes first, her passion for music or her love of animals. The young singer has two dogs, four cats, three birds -- and a snake. The snake was a gift from her younger sister.
"She kept saying she wanted a snake," says Bearden's sister Tiffany, "so I went and got her a snake." The snake is now seven years old.
The past several days have been filled with suspense at the Bearden home. Mom Jane, dad Richard and sister Tiffany wait anxiously for word on whether Trista gets to travel to Tinseltown. If she does, she'll certainly give Cleveland reason to celebrate.
It would mean she had out-performed thousands of other aspiring singers from across the country. It would also mean she's on her way to Hollywood with the opportunity of a lifetime -- the chance to become the next American Idol.