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Jamestown woman wins 'Idol' competition

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Alexis Barnick may be a small-town American farm girl, but after placing first in a singing competition, she may also be the next American Idol.

Alexis Barnick
Alexis Barnick, a Jamestown College student, won a "Dream Ticket" in Florida that will allow her to audition at the next level of "American Idol." John M.Steiner / Forum Communications Co.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Alexis Barnick may be a small-town American farm girl, but after placing first in a singing competition, she may also be the next American Idol.

Barnick, 19, competed in the "American Idol Experience" attraction, a competition held daily at Disney's Hollywood Studios Park, while her family was on vacation at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Fla. Auditions for "American Idol Experience" are held each day, and each day, audience members select one winner.

The winner that December day, out of hundreds who auditioned, was Barnick.

Winning was unexpected, given even the audition was spontaneous.

"It wasn't something we planned," said her mother, Lisa.

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Expecting to ride the Tower of Terror and visit Mickey Mouse, the Barnicks stumbled upon the "American Idol Experience" and insisted that Alexis audition.

"I didn't want to because I didn't want to ruin everyone else's day," Alexis said of the three-part audition.

The first audition began at 9 a.m. After making the first cut, Alexis auditioned again at 11 a.m. and then was whittled down to one of eight contestants for an evening performance in front of about 1,000 people.

Alexis, who is studying music education at Jamestown College, said she started singing when her older sister, Ariana, 20, seemed to get all the attention. Jealous, Alexis sought an excuse to get family and friends to notice her instead.

Her talent comes part naturally, Alexis said. Her younger sister and brother, Alyssa, 15, and Kane, 11, have it, too.

So Alexis started singing. Everywhere.

Family reunions. Talent competitions. And elementary performances while in grade school at St. John's Academy. One of her first solos, singing "Violet in the Snow," even shocked her family.

"I was like, 'Holy smokes, where did that voice come from?' I had no idea she could sing like that," Lisa said.

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But Alexis' talent also comes from hard work, she said. In high school, she performed with the concert choir, vocal jazz, regional All-State Choir and University of North Dakota Honor Choir. She sang in church. She sang in a band with her friends. She was also invited to All-State Choir all four years - an accomplishment because freshmen aren't commonly chosen.

"God gave me the gift, and I'm going to use it because he gave it to me," Alexis said.

One of Alexis' most recent performances was the lead role of Florence in the production "Chess" held at Jamestown College.

"I can change my voice to make it fit whatever I'm singing," Alexis said.

But her "American Idol Experience" performance singing KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree," is one Alexis made her own. She's performed the song so many times, people are tired of hearing it, Alexis said.

But the "American Idol Experience" audience didn't agree. They voted Alexis No. 1.

Her prize? A ticket escorting her to the front of the line at a regional "Idol" audition of her choice.

Alexis originally tried to keep the win to herself - she denied media coverage and didn't even tell one of her music teachers at school.

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"I kind of want to remind people, it's just an audition," she said.

And the audition sites haven't been picked yet. She'll know more about that in May.

Until then, Alexis said she'll continue her studies at Jamestown College. She'd love the chance to make it big like some of her favorite celebrities, but what will be at the "American Idol" audition will be, she said.

"To be given a chance to do what you love and not take it would be foolish," she said.

Alexis' next performance is the Sophomore Recital at Jamestown College. She performs with her classmates Lara Hermanson and Jeff Prentice at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Katie Ryan-Anderson is a writer for the Jamestown Sun

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