By Keysha Drexel
Like most teenagers who love to sing, Bailey Ingle thought her dreams of making it big in the music world were just that–dreams.
But when a country music star and his manager told her they think she has what it takes to make it in the music business, the 15-year-old said she began to think her dreams could become reality.
Ingle, a sophomore at Hoover High School, won a radio contest in late August that gave her the chance to join Keith Urban for a duet during his concert at Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.
Ingle, the daughter of Tim and Teresa Ingle of Hoover, entered the 102.5 The Bull contest just days before it ended in mid-August.
“My mom heard about the contest just a few days before the (entry) deadline, so I practiced singing ‘We Were Us’ over and over in my basement, made a video and uploaded it for the contest a couple of days later,” Ingle said.
When Urban toured last year with Little Big Town, the country music star said Karen Fairchild would come out on stage each night to perform “We Were Us” with him. The duet was originally recorded by Urban and Miranda Lambert.
But this year, Urban and his crew decided to select a different girl in each city on the tour to come up on stage and sing the duet.
The radio station picked the top three entries in the contest. Those performers’ videos were sent to Urban and his manager, Ingle said.
“I was just so excited to make it to the top three. I mean, it was just incredible to think that Keith Urban would be watching a video of me singing,” Ingle said.
Ingle was in class one day shortly after the radio contest ended when her cellphone started “blowing up with text message after text message” from her family, Ingle said.
“At first, I thought something really bad must have happened, because I was getting all these text messages from my family right in the middle of class,” she said. “But when I looked at them, I learned that I had won the contest. It was hard to sit still for the rest of that class.”
After she found out she would soon join Urban onstage at his concert in Pelham, Ingle said she practiced as much as she could.
“I think I stayed in my basement singing from the time I found out I won until the night before the concert,” she said. “I wanted my performance to be perfect, so I just kept practicing and practicing. People would come over to visit, and I would drag them into the basement to listen to me sing and to offer tips and advice.”
Ingle got so wrapped up in making sure her vocal performance was just right that she almost forgot a crucial part of her preparations for her onstage appearance with the country music star.
“It wasn’t until the night before the concert that I realized that I had no idea what I was going to wear when I met Keith Urban,” she said. “My friend Julianna Dean wants to be a personal stylist, so she and I hit the mall for two hours before it closed, and I think I tried on a bazillion different outfits.”
With her cut-off jean shorts and cowboy boots ready for the show, Ingle said she started to get nervous about meeting Urban in person.
But as soon as she met Nicole Kidman’s better half, the crooner instantly put her at ease, Ingle said.
“He was the nicest person I’ve ever met and made me feel so relaxed about the whole thing,” she said.
Urban also offered Ingle compliments on her singing.
“He said that my version of that song was one of his favorites, and I just remember thinking, ‘Did Keith Urban just really say that to me?’ It was an amazing experience just to meet him,” Ingle said.
After going through the sound-check process with Urban, Ingle went backstage and waited for him to call her out for the duet.
“My whole family came out there to support me, and it was just a great moment to not only be up there on stage with Keith Urban but to also be able to represent Hoover,” Ingle said.
Ingle said she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love to sing. She performed in the show choir and the regular choir while she was a student at Bumpus Middle School.
But while she loved to perform, Ingle said she never seriously considered pursuing a career in country music.
“It’s one of those things where you think that you’re just like every other kid out there dreaming of making it big in Nashville someday, and I didn’t think it was very realistic,” Ingle said.
But after she rocked her duet with Urban, the country singer’s manager told her she has star potential.
“After the show, his manager pulled my mom and me back into the dressing room and told us that he thinks I have what it takes to make it in the music business,” Ingle said. “As the words were coming out of his mouth, something clicked with me, and I realized that this is something I can really go after, this is something that could actually happen for me.”
Since her performance with Urban, Ingle said, she’s been working to improve her voice and has started writing songs and looking for gigs around the Over the Mountain area.
“My main goal now is just to sing every chance I get and to introduce myself to as many people as possible,” she said.
Ingle said now that she meets the age requirements, she plans to audition for “American Idol” or “The Voice.” She recently went to Nashville to check out the music scene there firsthand.
“My family and I took a trip to Nashville, and my mom had me go up and just ask people if I could sing with them,” Ingle said. “I’ve always loved to sing, but I’ve never been one to grab the microphone and just start singing or to ask to come up on stage and sing. It was a fear of rejection.”
But Ingle overcame her fears on the trip to Nashville and got up to sing with a band in a little club they visited.
“I think I was more nervous singing in that small venue than I was in front of the thousands of people at the Keith Urban concert,” Ingle said.
But no matter the venue or how nervous she is before she performs, Ingle said she cannot get enough of the feeling of being onstage.
“It’s great to be up there and seeing everyone having fun because of something I’m doing and to see them enjoying my music,” she said. “You really can’t beat that feeling.”
Ingle is making plans to return to the stage soon and is hoping to perform at a benefit concert for Hoover native Kayla Perry’s organization, Open Hands Overflowing Hearts, which is raising money for pediatric cancer research and awareness efforts.
“If I can use my voice to help others, that would just be the icing on the cake of this whole experience,” Ingle said.ϖ