Drauden’s musical roots date back to early lullabies
“When she was a baby, I used to sing her a lullaby every night,” said Coal City resident Melody Drauden about her daughter, Rachel Drauden, now 15.
Rachel was raised with the understanding that music is important. Her mom and dad always had music playing wherever they went, in the house and in the car. Mom is a singer, and dad plays the drums and guitar.
So, naturally, Rachel picked up a love for music, too.
She isn’t sure when she actually started to sing, but knows she was really young. It’s just something she has always done.
In 2011, Rachel was a semifinalist in Rialto Idol in Joliet and participated in Coal City’s Cabaret Night in April.
Most recently, Rachel took first place in the senior division of the Grundy County Fair Talent Contest on June 30.
“Her voice is definitely above average,” said Karin Facko, director of the Talent Contest.
For the past two years, Rachel participated in the junior division at the fair because of her age.
This was the first year she was old enough to compete with the older crowd. She competed against seven other people in the senior division. There were another seven in the junior division.
“I’m so happy for her,” Melody said, also noting her daughter got a perfect score of 50 points.
To be in the senior division, contestants had to be between 15 and 21 years old at the time of the contest. Rachel just made the cut after turning 15 on June 24.
Her first place trophy was brought in by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
“Everybody always tells me it’s a hard song, but I didn’t think it was,” Rachel said.
Outside of competitions, Rachel likes to sing “punk music,” like Paramore’s “Monster.”
The winner said it felt really good to be on stage and win at such a young age. She had never even placed in the junior division, she said.
“I used to get nervous in front of people, but I’m getting used to it,” Rachel said.
Melody said she has really seen her daughter grow over the years, too, and noticed at the fair that Rachel is becoming more and more comfortable in front of crowds.
“It’s like watching a flower bloom,” Melody said. “She walks the stage and smiles.”
As Grundy County’s winner, Rachel will sing Houston’s song once again at the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention in Springfield in January 2013 as the county’s representative.
“She has a good chance in Springfield,” Facko said.
Second to Rachel was another vocalist at the contest, Hayley Collins, of Diamond. Sade McDonald, of Channahon, took third with an original vocal.
Jaycie Punkie, of Morris, won first place in the junior division with a jazz dance and will represent Grundy County in Springfield, too.
Maddy Knapp, also of Morris, took second place with vocal and guitar and third place in the junior division was David Whitson, of Manteno, on the electric guitar.
Following her state competition in January, Rachel plans to also audition for American Idol. She just missed the age cutoff for 2012. She needed to be 15 by June 5.
“If that’s what she wants to do, we’ll be behind her 100 percent,” Melody said.