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Barnes singing way to top

One family in Troy could be singing praises to the tune of $100,000 this spring.

Melanie Barnes a hair stylist at Brooke’s Salon has advanced a round in the ‘Sing Your Way to 100K’ contest, sponsored by PCI Gaming, the operational division of three tribal Alabama casinos.

But the competition is no gamble for Barnes, who has been involved in the music industry for quite some time.

“I did my first solo at church when I was seven,” the singer and songwriter said.

Since then, Barnes has built an extensive resume.

“I’ve been up for several ADDY Awards for commercials I’ve sang in,” she said.

“I’ve been in and out of the industry. I love to sing anything from R&B and Pop to Contemporary Christian and Country.”

Barnes has also collaborated extensively with some big names while following her passion for music.

“I’ve worked a lot with Brian McKnight,” she said, adding that she co-wrote the hit single ‘One Last Cry’ for the legendary recording artist.

For work she did on hit songs like McKnight’s ‘Anytime,’ Barnes has even been invited to the Grammys.

“Oh my gosh my feet have never hurt worse in my life,” she said.

“They actually start the awards and the filming at noon, so you’re all dressed up and standing from then until 4:00 a.m.

“But it was great, you’re riding in the limos and you never forget something like that.

But the perks of stardom were not enough to overpower Barnes’ motherly instinct.

“In my early 20’s I had a record deal but I decided I wanted to be a mom,” she said. “I took that to the 110th degree and had five kids. I put my career and stuff on hold and went to writing.”

But now the single mother, with kids ranging from nine to 19-years-old, is once again tuning up her pipes for the masses to hear.

After entering the ‘Sing Your Way to 100K’ contest on Jan. 17, Barnes became one of 96 contestants to advance to the semi-finals.

“It’s affiliated with American Idol in some way,” she said, adding that clips of the contest that’s attracted many of the most talented singers in the southeast would air on a future American Idol season.

The contest itself was much like the familiar reality television series as well.

“I’ve bungee jumped head-first, birthed five children and been through a lot of scary things, but this was scary,” Barnes explained. “You go in there (the auditioning room) with your contestant number plastered to your chest and the judges are so close to you, there’s a camera in your face and you have about 30 seconds to wow them.”

And wow them she did.

Barnes said that after belting ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston, she was told by the judges that they had heard that song in the auditions several times and her rendition was the best.

After another sample, the judges were convinced and Barnes earned a yellow ticket.

That ticket will allow her to compete in the next round of the contest on Feb. 27 at the Riverside Casino and Resort in Wetumpka.

“My biggest goal is to place in the top four in this next round,” Barnes said.

That would be enough launch her to the next phase of the competition with 31 other singers.

“Hopefully I’ll be what they’re looking to hear,” said Barnes who admitted she was her own worst critic.

The mother-of-five/singer/songwriter/beautician and Pike County resident of 16 years said she encouraged anybody and everybody to come out and support her on her big day.

No matter the outcome of her performance, Barnes said she can only gain from the experience.

“Even if you don’t win, all the exposure cant be a bad thing,” she said.

And even if Barnes isn’t crowned the next “100K idol” the local talent who said she will always be a mother first, is still the idol of at least five youngsters right here at home that she considers priceless.