Eighteen musical contestants from across North Carolina will take the stage Saturday at the Lincoln Cultural Center to compete in the semifinal round of one of the area’s most elite singing contests, the 11th Annual Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition.
For the finals round on Sunday, judges will eliminate more than half of the contestants, who range in age this year from 18 to 37.
Each person must showcase a tune from three of the competition’s five categories, which include opera, oratorio, operetta, musical theater and classical song, internationally-known opera singer and competition founder Carolyn Heafner told the Times-News on Thursday.
She was excited to announce that this year’s grand prize winner will take home an even larger prize than in past years, $2,000.
“It was time,” Heafner said of increasing the prize money.
Since she and her husband Robert Williams established Lincoln County’s premier vocal event more than a decade ago, they’ve offered each winner a $1,500 cash prize.
The couple believes the competition is not only beneficial for those more advanced in their singing careers but also for artists who are just getting started.
“Young students should do it, too,” she said. “It’s very, very good…the best experience they can possibly have.”
Heafner and Williams understand the long, tedious process it sometimes takes to for the music industry to acknowledge certain talent and how competitions, like this one, may help to hoist some musicians above their fellow vocalists and into the spotlight.
“We both had a lot of help from competitions when we first started out,” she said. “We realized it’s the only way you can rehearse for all the auditions you’ll have later in life.”
Just because a person may not win a competition doesn’t mean one’s dreams should shrink, Heafner added. Either way, the experience is priceless.
“You learn as much by not winning as you do by winning,” she said.
Many competitors enter the local contest year after year, as long as they’ve never before won the grand prize.
“We have people who come back,” Heafner said, “and the audience gets to see their progress.”
Semifinals will start 12:30 p.m. Saturday; finals will be 3 p.m. Sunday. Both events take place in the Cultural Center’s Timken Performance Hall.
For more information, call (704) 732-9055.