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Small town girl with big time dreams

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By Robin Bass

Have you heard? Taylorsville is the home of the next American Idol!

At least, that’s what many are hoping for when eighteen-year-old Meagan Campbell auditions this week along with 200 other aspiring singers who made it through the first round of cuts last July.

While there is definitely a buzz about Meagan competing for a chance at instant stardom, she’s trying to keep a level head about the whole experience.

“I’m just seeing how far this will go,” she said. “In a way, I would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, but I’m also proud of myself for making it this far.”

Two months ago when the dream machine known as American Idol rolled into Louisville, an estimated 10,000 would-be pop stars began lining up outside Freedom Hall as early as 5 a.m.

“I found out later there were five of us from Spencer County,” said Meagan.

One of those five was Stephanie Orm, the friend responsible for convincing Meagan to tryout. The pair spent close to 15 hours waiting to sing in front of the show’s producers. To pass the time, Meagan and Stephanie rehearsed, chatted with other contestants and watched as groups of four took turns approaching one of 12 judging tables positioned across the arena floor.

“I wasn’t nervous until we walked down on that floor,” said Meagan.

When her turn came, Meagan remembers singing about three words of her song before one of the producers stopped her. They talked. Then one of them said something about not meeting the standards of the show. As Meagan and the others began to walk away, a producer turned and gave her the news – she had made it through. Meagan would be moving on to the next round of auditions with Randy, Paula, Simon and newcomer to the judging table, songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Meagan even had the honor of holding the coveted season eight golden ticket before she had to turn it back in to Idol staff.

“It was kind of amazing. I knew my mom was with me at that point,” said Meagan.

Her parents, Annette and David Campbell, have always been big supporters of Meagan’s love for music. They picked her up from countless chorus practices beginning in elementary school. They sat through numerous choir, solo and pageant performances. And they paid for voice lessons when they realized how serious she was about singing.

“She’s always been a very outgoing person. Totally opposite from me and her mother,” said David Campbell. “My only dream for Meagan has been for her to succeed at whatever she wanted to be.”

Meagan said that was her mother’s dream too. But Annette succumbed to a weakened heart muscle and passed away last summer just before Meagan was to begin her senior year at Spencer County High School. Annette’s condition was discovered during chemotherapy treatments for stage four melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer.

“She always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do; to set my heart to it. She would always encourage me to pursue my singing.”

In honor of her mother, Meagan chose to sing “Broken” by Lindsey Haun at her first audition. The song speaks of loss, finding strength in struggles and having hope for the future.

Perhaps along similar thinking, Meagan has selected “I Miss You,” written by Miley Cyrus, for this week’s audition. According to the Disney diva, she wrote the song for her beloved grandfather. He died before seeing the realization of Miley’s dream of becoming a successful singer.

“(Meagan) is so talented and such a great kid,” said SCHS chorus teacher Natalie Hall of her student for the past two years. “I think she has just as good a chance as anybody. She’s a great vocalist and performer.”

What happens if Meagan doesn’t make the next cut?

“If not, that’s fine,” said Meagan. “I’ll just come back home to my family and friends who still love me.”

And continue her other life-long dream of becoming a nurse and caring for babies in some nearby hospital’s neonatal center.