Noelle Goodson was on her way to math class when she got the big news. It was just like the situation a few weeks ago when she learned she was a finalist in the “Stand and Be Heard” National Anthem singing contest: It was another missed phone call.
The Fayette graduate—now a freshman at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich.—had just finished lunch and was walking to class when she noticed the missed call on her phone.
It was from the contest representative with the FMC Corporation’s annual singing competition and that was the day the national winner would be announced from among the four finalists.
Noelle called her back and heard the words from the other end: “Congratulations. You’re the grand prize winner.”
“I was in shock for a second, then I started screaming a little bit,” she said. “I quickly called my mom and let her know before class.”
So much for concentrating on her studies.
“I definitely did not learn anything in math that day,” Noelle said.
The contest involved three phases. First, all 185 contestants submitted videos of themselves singing the National Anthem. Popular voting narrowed the pool to 20, and judges selected the final four.
Each of the finalists received a paid trip to Nashville to record a studio version of “Th e Star Spangled Banner” and each received a $5,000 college scholarship.
The final voting to determine an overall winner returned to the popular vote format and Noelle received the biggest tally.
“I had some very good competition,” she said. “Each one of us has very diff erent and unique voices and I think any one of us could have won.”
But it came down to votes, she said, and that’s what pushed her to the top.
It wasn’t just friends and friends of friends who showed their support. People who never met her joined in the voting when they read about her situation in the Observer and word spread on Facebook.
“I think my win means there is still power in small communities,” she said. “Out of the finalists, I was from the smallest town. It just shows how supportive everyone is, because even if they didn’t know me, they probably knew someone who knew me.”
More than 30,000 votes were submitted among the four finalists. The other contestants were Alexandra Carpenter of Crawfordsville, Ind., Hayley Hall, of Bladenboro, N.C., and Alexander Raun of Minden, Neb.
Contestants were members of 4-H, FFA or other agricultural student organizations.
FMC, an agricultural products company, sponsors the competition.
“Interacting with young people is what makes us excited about investing in the future of farming,” said Tim Thompson, FMC Agricultural Solutions North America product manager. “FMC is proud to congratulate Noelle.”
In addition to the thrill of winning the national title, Noelle—and especially her parents Bill and Brenda Goodson—had the thrill of receiving an additional $10,000 college scholarship.
“I only got to see the $10,000 check for a couple of hours,” she said. “I am sure Mom and Dad would like to share a little bit of it, but I know it will be less stressful on all of us if it all just goes towards my schooling.”
Her performance in the Nashville studio won’t be the final time that she sings the National Anthem.
“I will always be honored and willing to sing the Anthem again whenever I am asked,” Noelle said. “Although it will not be quite like in the professional studio, I will still be glad to do it.”
In fact, she’s been asked to sing at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, and the South Farm and Guns show in Memphis.
“I might not be able to make all of these due to my school schedule, but I hope to at least go to the National FFA Convention and the FMC Convention,” she said.
The FFA convention is an important one, because FFA is where it all started. Her ag teacher, Pam Schultz, is the person who told her about the contest, and the rest, as they say, is history—a very melodious history.