Award gives boost to singer's dream

schandler@newsobserver.comFebruary 10, 2013 

Jordan Hines of Benson has been named the recipient of the Ginny Wicker Award, which bestows $500 to aid an aspiring musician’s career. She’ll perform twice this year with Johnston Community College’s Country Music Showcase.

COURTESY OF MARLENE DUNN PHOTOGRAPHY

Jordan Hines of Benson started singing in church when she was 7 years old, “and I’ve been singing ever since,” she said.

That first concert got a lot of love from the audience, but “at the end of it she was sort of embarrassed and just ran out of the church,” said her mom, Sonia Hines. “She’s come a long way since then.”

Now 13, Jordan still sings in church, but she’s added some experience on a big stage in front of a larger audience as a guest performer with Johnston Community College’s Country Music Showcase (motto: “Where Stars Get Their Start”). And through JCC, she was recently awarded the annual Ginny Wicker Award, which bestows $500 to help advance musicians’ careers.

In her application for the award, given in honor of Wicker, who served on the showcase’s planning committee, Jordan had a simple answer for the question of why she wanted the award.

“I said I wanted it because I wanted to keep singing and progressing in my music,” she said. “I wanted to keep going and going and just keep singing for the people who want to hear me sing.”

Jordan used the prize money to buy a guitar and a sound system she can use at performances. While her voice is her main instrument, she said she’s excited to learn guitar and optimistic that it will open a lot of doors for her.

Right from the start, she pointed out, all she has to do is learn three chords “and there’s like billions of songs you can learn.”

The songs she likes best are gospel. And her favorite gospel songs made it onto her CD, “You Are Mine,” which she recorded when she was just 11.

“They’re songs that I have loved ever since I was little,” said Jordan, an eighth-grader at Benson Middle School. “ ‘I’m Gonna Praise the Lord,’ that was the first song I ever sang on the JCC show, that’s sort of what started me off.” Other songs on the album include “You Are Mine” and “Long as I Got King Jesus.”

“Those are some of my favorite songs to sing,” Jordan said.

Recording the album was an important learning experience, she said.

“We had to get in a small little box with padding all around it” to record, she said, referring to the small studio room. With headphones on and her own voice audible as she sang, it was pretty different from singing live on stage. “I thought it was really neat though,” she said.

She also took advantage of the chance to do multiple takes of each song, something she definitely doesn’t get to do on stage. It was all just “to make sure I get ’em as good as I can,” she said.

Jordan made her debut with JCC’s Country Music Showcase in its “Gospel Jubilee” show in 2010, and she’ll be back for two performances this year – the “Country Legends” show on April 5 and 6 and the gospel show Aug. 2 and 3. The showcases expose performers to intense rehearsals in a group setting and give them the chance to experience a professional-grade facility with high-tech lighting and sound.

Jordan’s mom said the performances have been a real confidence boost – there’s certainly no more running away after a show.

“There’s been a lot of good folks there who have helped to sort of mentor her and give her pointers and suggestions,” Sonia Hines said. “It’s like a big family there.”

The showcase and other performances – including winning Clayton Junior Idol in 2010 and singing the national anthem before games in her school’s gym – have gotten Jordan over her nerves and to a place where she can just enjoy what she does.

“When I sing on the stage, like if I sing an upbeat song, I look out at the audience and I see them all happy and I feel like I’m not afraid of anything,” she said. “I’m not afraid of messing up, and I just feel good.”

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