Last year's 'Star' still singing

In the year since she won our first "Sunday Star" contest, Raleigh's Blair Dougher hasn't had any major music-career breakthroughs. But she's still singing. In fact, it's possible that she's singing at this very moment -- on a street corner on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Dougher was scheduled to arrive there this past Tuesday for a monthlong visit.

"I went to Aruba before and we were out and saw this live band, and I started singing with them," Dougher says. "They gave me their card and said to let them know when I'll be back. So who knows? I'm going back with my best friend and she's bringing her guitar, and we'll sing on the street. Might as well."

Although voting in this year's "Sunday Star" was close, Dougher was a runaway winner last year for her recording of Jaci Velasquez's "On My Knees." She had just graduated from N.C. State University, and she had planned to move to Nashville and try to break into music -- which she still wants to do. But Dougher hasn't been able to find work of any kind in Nashville, so she has yet to make the move.

In the meantime, she spent the past year in Raleigh working an internship at the RBC Center and a job for the N.C. Chamber of Commerce. She's also still playing gigs at restaurants around the Triangle with a band called ShakerTown.

But for the next month, Aruba beckons.

"It's really random, but I think I just need to live a little," Dougher says of her trip. "I want to go to Nashville so bad, but unfortunately I'm entering the job search at a time when economics are working against that. I'm on the verge of just going ahead and moving there, hoping to find something. But before I do that, I thought I'd travel a bit while I still can."

David Menconi