Clayton Idol sets sights on stardom

ajames@newsobserver.comOctober 20, 2013 

Montrez Bynum, an eighth-grader at Riverwood Middle School in Clayton, sings in his chorus class. Montrez was recently named the winner of the Clayton Idol singing competition, which was a major stepping stone on the path to stardom for “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery.


— Twelve-year-old Montrez Bynum is this year’s Clayton Idol after winning a singing competition sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

Montrez follows in the footsteps of Scotty McCreery, who won the Clayton Idol competition before going on to “American Idol” fame.

Montrez said he aspires to be famous like McCreery. The two actually competed against each other in the 2011 Clayton Idol competition. That was the year McCreery won.

Montrez is no stranger to the title. He was Clayton Idol in 2009, when he was 8 years old.

“When I sing in my room, I sing however I want,” Montrez said. “If someone’s listening, I have to try harder to impress them.”

He said he loves singing for an audience.

His chorus teacher at Riverwood Middle School said Montrez shines onstage. “He’s not shy of the audience,” said teacher Carmen Aiken.

This is Montrez’s first year in the chorus. Before this year, he’d never had a music teacher or even a relative who was a singer.

“He’s given some support to other boys in the chorus who are timid,” Aiken said. “He’s not afraid to try anything.”

In this year’s competiton, Montrez sang “Carolina Girls” by General Norman Johnson. In 2009, the song that won him the title was “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5.

Montrez likes singing classic songs that take people back to when the song first came out. He said his aim is to perform those songs with a fresh, young voice.

Leading up to the competition, Montrez didn’t have to practice too much. He said when he’s onstage, singing comes naturally to him. He does, however, enjoy singing in his room and in the shower.

When he was younger, Montrez said, he enjoyed watching Disney Channel shows like “Hannah Montana” and “High School Musical.” He would have his parents buy the CDs for the shows so he could sing along.

Previous Clayton Idol winners have sung at various community events, like the annual Christmas tree lighting, and in concerts around town. Montrez will perform at this year’s Christmas parade in Clayton.

According to his chorus teacher, this is just the beginning of Montrez’s musical career.

“It’s possible he’d have a career in music,” Aiken said.

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