12-year-old Hadlei Self a finalist in ICMA talent search

Published 10:24 am Sunday, May 26, 2024

A 12-year-old from Welsh is on her way to Nashville to perform after winning the Inspirational Country Music Association’s (ICMA) The Sound of Small Town America talent competition.

Hadlei Self, a seventh-grader at Welsh-Roanoke Junior High School, is among 22 finalists selected from across the United States to compete in the final round of the ICMA’s talent search in Nashville, Tenn. Self was one of five winners in last year’s talent competition held in Lake Arthur.

The finalists will perform with a live band at the Texas Troubadour Theatre in Nashville, TN on May 28 with winners being announced May 29 as part of the ICMA Awards Show at the Grand Ole Opry. Contestants will be judged based on performance, costumes and audience participation. The top winner will get a record deal.

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Performing on stage is nothing for Self, who competed in her first talent competition in the second-grade.

Her mother likes to say that her daughter could sing and dance before she could walk and talk.

“I don’t know the exact date I started singing, but it was probably when I was first able to talk,” Self said.

She started making up her own songs when she was just two-years-old.

“You can give her a subject and tell her to make up a song about it and she can do it,” her grandfather, singer-songwriter Hunter Logan said.

Like many of her relatives, including her grandfather, Self grew up surrounded by music.

She grew up singing in the church choir with her grandfather. The two continue to sing together in the choir.

Self has three brothers and three sisters. Her sister, four-year-old Ollie, is already learning to dance and sing.

As a solo artist, Self found success singing and dancing in local talent competitions and hometown music festivals. She has taken top honors the last three years in the Jeff Davis Parish Fair talent show.

She mostly sings Christian-country music and songs from her favorite Disney movies, but is open to singing just about anything.

“It will take some work, but I can pretty much sing anything,” she said.

Although she has been on the stage most of her life, Self admits she still gets nervous thinking about performing on the Opry stage and has been watching videos of people performing on the legendary stage.

“It’s in God’s hands,” she said. “He has everything planned out, so if he has me planned out to mess up, then that is what I am going to do, but I just think about the positive things.”

She will perform a song written for her by her grandfather called, “That’s Why I Love You Jesus.”

A lot of her family will be making the trip to support her.

The possibility of recording a record is intriguing to the young singer.

“I’ve always been told I could,” she said.

With just days before the competition, Self has been practicing ahead of the competition.

She’s borrowed a light-blue dress with bows on the back from her cousin to wear and has a new pair of boots to wear.

There will be rehearsals, photograph sessions and interviews with radio stations leading up to the contest.

As for future plans, Self would like to be a singer and dance in the theatre.

“I like watching the theatre and can see myself doing it,” she said.

She is also learning to write songs and play the guitar.

Self is the daughter of Chelsey and Rusty Orgeron and Dustyn Self and Kali Gatte.