Local News

Sebring teen wins Disney Idol competition

SEBRING - For 14-year-old Sebring resident and budding singing star Cammie Lester, having to wait is becoming a habit. By the time she was 12, she wanted to audition at the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but she had to wait until she was 14. And after she won that event two weeks ago and received a ticket giving her priority access to an American Idol audition before celebrity judges, she learned she had to wait until she's 15. If that wasn't enough, The Voice invited her to come to New York City to audition in the kids division trials, but that event was delayed until this fall. But Cammie takes it all in stride.
"I just like to sing," said Cammie, who grew up partly in Sebring and Michigan. Cammie said she hopes to become a professional country music singer. Her mother, Mandy Elliott, said that while a mother has a natural bias toward her daughter, she believes Cammie will be successful. "I think she has the looks, the personality and the talent," she said. And seeing the reaction to her daughter's performance re-enforced that, she said. "Everyone there thought she was the best, so it was more confirmation to me," she said. Elliott said they visited Hollywood Studios and learned that hundreds compete daily, with only 15 contestants being chosen. Then five shows are held with three contestants each show, she said. The contestants appear before three judges and a live studio audience in a 1,000 seat-theater, she said. From each of the five shows, a winner is chosen and then all five winners compete during the evening, she said. For being the big winner that day, Cammie received The American Idol Experience dream ticket that allows the holder to "schedule, in advance, priority access for participation in one audition for the American Idol television show..." Cammie said she sang "I Hope You Dance," during the event, which she chose from a list of songs provided to her. She had planned to sign "More Like Her." "We thought she could go in and sing what she wanted," her mother said. Locally, Cammie will be attending Sebring High School this coming year and has qualified for the junior varsity cheerleading team. She competed in Heartland Idol, winning third place, and will sing during the Caladium Festival in Lake Placid from July 26 to July 28. But although there may be some downtime before Cammie sings in her next competition or public event, that doesn't mean someone won't hear Cammie singing in the meantime. "All we hear all day is her singing," Elliott said, adding that her daughter is very dedicated to developing her talent. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834