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Ever since he can remember, Reginald Stacy has been making music. His mother, Barbara, says when he was an infant–no more than four or six months old, he was whistling and humming.
It was only natural as he got older that those sounds evolved into words.
“When I was in kindergarten,” Stacy, 35, of Bronson said, “I would sing into a box fan. That’s how I learned to perfect my pitch.”
Those crude beginnings have paid off.
Last month Stacy competed in Talent Quest Florida–a state karaoke competition.
Performing in both Pop and Country categories, Stacy did so well, he earned the privilege of competing in the national contest in Laughlin, Nev. in September. There, the winning contestant can earn $3,500, a chance to perform in front of music producers and potentially record their own CD.
The road to Laughlin, about 90 miles south of Las Vegas, began at Rocky’s Place in Newberry.
There, Stacy qualified for the state contest singing country songs.
But he didn’t stop there.
He came back home to Bronson and competed at McKenzie’s Four Corners singing “Love Song” by Adele.
Each time, he bested 15-20 other singers and landed a primo spot at the state level, held July 5-8 in Tampa.
There are no cash prizes involved with the qualifying contests, Stacy said. “You pay as you go.”
The three day competition in Tampa began Saturday morning. Contestants were given numbers and called randomly to the stage where they performed before a panel of judges, all of whom have experience in the music industry.
Contestants sing two songs in their category and are judged on vocal ability, stage presence and appearance.
In the Pop Category, Stacy performed “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “Love Song.” His country performances were “I Will Not Say Goodbye” and “The Breath You Take.”.
At the end of a full day of qualifying, contestants waited patiently Sunday morning for the announcement of the Top 10 in each category–men and women.
Stacy made the cut in not one, but both categories and was immediately thrust into performing again before the largest audience he’d ever performed before.
When the tallies came in at the end of the day, the Bronson native placed third in the Country Category and sixth in Pop.
Stacy received his judge’s critique sheets. All praised his vocal abilities and costumes (put together by the singer himself) and offered one tip–“own the stage more.”
“I try to sing powerful songs that touch people,” said the soft spoken and somewhat shy Stacy. “I look for songs that have meaning to me and then I can draw on my own experiences to put the emotion into the performance.”
Growing up, it was the music of Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Prince and R. Kelly that he most connected with. In the songs by those artists, Stacy drew inspiration and found common ground that he was able to convey through each performance.
“Singing is my job,” he said, although the father of two works a day job at Aeropostle in Oaks Mall.
“I have to thank Carol Perkins,” Stacy said. “She was my biggest inspiration for karaoke.” Perkins saw the talent Stacy has and encouraged him to push onward.
“She knew I was shy and she kept me going. She let me come to her house and practice.
“The Dawg House was the first time I ever did karaoke,” he said. “I did ‘Purple Rain’ and that’s become my signature song.”
Also instrumental in his success was Rodney Thomas who allowed him access to his studio for practice sessions.
Stacy is well known around Levy County. He has sung at Williston’s Peanut Festival, the Christmas celebrations in Chiefland, the July 3 extravaganza in Williston and the Levy County Fair.
He’s also becoming more community involved. Last year he spearheaded the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in Bronson and was pleasantly surprised how well the event went. He’s hoping for a repeat this year with more participation and all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
“I really want to make a difference here in Levy County,” he said. “I want to be a better person to help my community.”
But right now, it’s Nevada on his mind as he starts planning for what he hopes will be a springboard for a musical career.
When he’s not working at Aeropostle or doing karaoke, Stacy enjoys writing songs, shopping and traveling. “I enjoy learning about different people and different cultures,” he said.
He’ll get that opportunity in two months when he returns to the national finals. Stacy qualified last year but in the heat of the contest, his CD messed up and his performance was lackluster. He’s praying for a better outcome this year. He wants to put Bronson–and Levy County–on the map.
“This is a dream that’s just about ready to come true,” he said.
Anyone interested in helping Stacy reach for his dream can call 352-577-4555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.