Chloe Channell can remember what she wore and how she felt singing the National Anthem in 2013 at Blue Wahoos Stadium prior to a mid-season game.
"A jean skirt and a Blue Wahoos shirt that I just got and I was super excited," said Channell, laughing at the memory. "Because I never thought I would get to sing the National Anthem for a big baseball game."
She was 11 and already an accomplished singer on her way to fame, starting at 6-years-old on the stage of the former Chumuckla Farmers Opry.
Nerves? Nope. But the thrill of it? Off the charts.
"Even though I had performed the National Anthem a lot of times before that day, it was the first one I had done in an actual stadium," said Channell, 17, a junior at Pace High School, who will appear on American Idol this season.
"Honestly, it is a lot cooler to sing in a stadium like this," said Channell in a recent return to Blue Wahoos Stadium."Because it feels like there are way more people and it's before a game. I think that makes it cooler and more important."
The experience gives her unique perspective and appreciation for the Blue Wahoos annual "Pensacola's Got Talent" this upcoming Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. She sang at the competition at the ballpark in 2013 just months before she reached the semi-finals of America's Got Talent.
The competition can be an early-career springboard for singers like Channell, who is confident that a wide variety of highly talented performers will show off their skills this Saturday.
"I know tons of people who sing," Channell said. "And I know tons of girls who have been doing the same things I have been doing and it's crazy to think how many people from this area are really talented
"Usually you would think it's one in a million, but there are tons of people who are so talented."
Having competetd at competitions far and wide, from local performances like Pensacola's Got Talent to nationally televised showcases like America's Got Talent and American Idol, Channell is happy to share with anyone aspiring to be like her.
At any audition, Channell recommends never letting negative feedback deter you from your dream.
"I have been told no a million times by different people and with important stuff that I really wanted," Channel said. "I would go to an audition for something and just get told no.
"But I never stopped trying and now more things are coming my way. I'm excited to see what's going to happen. And it's all because I kept going. If I could tell anybody one thing, it would be to just keep going, no matter what."
Channell encourages anyone with aspirations of singing to follow their dream and overcome setbacks.
"It can hurt sometimes and you feel like you don't want to sing again," she said. "I think that is the biggest thing. People are nervous and worried that people won't like them or how they sound and be rude to them.
"I know how that can be."
Channell's life is a whirlwind these days. She is finishing her junior year at Pace as a two-sport athlete. In addition to playing on the girls golf team, which advanced to the state tournament in October, she is also on Patriots' inaugural girls flag football team.
Channell is a linebacker and occasional receiver and loves the sport.
"All my friends are on the team," she said. "In our area, as you know, football and baseball are so popular. Since my freshman year, I have never really been part of a team and this is that outlet."
In golf, her performance has improved from freshman to junior season. She has been able to post 18-hole scores in the 90's or low 100's to help her team in standings.
"Golf is difficult. But it has taught me a lot of things," she said. "It has taught me to be patient. It has taught me you have to practice to be good. For the longest time, I would sing and think, 'I'm good, I don't need to practice.' Then I started playing golf my freshman year. It is the most stressful game ever. It is just like music. It stresses me out sometimes."
On stage, it doesn't show. The budding star has opened for national acts like Rodney Adkins, Little Big Town, and Craig Morgan, performing at hundreds of shows and growing a large following and fanbase in her hometown thanks to her poise on stage and unmistakeable country voice.
She's been sworn to secrecy on the result of her American Idol audition, which will air in an upcoming episode sometime this month on ABC, but her hometown fans are confident she'll end up in Hollywood soon one way or another and will be cheering her on each step of the way.
Want to perform at Pensacola's Got Talent? A very limited number of performance slots are still available for the competition this Saturday, March 9. To schedule a try out time, call 850-934-8444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.