CORDOVA — Seven years ago, Allie Sickles stepped onstage at the Jasper Civic Center and began singing for shoppers at the Pilot Club's annual holiday bazaar. It was the 10-year-old's first …
CORDOVA — Seven years ago, Allie Sickles stepped onstage at the Jasper Civic Center and began singing for shoppers at the Pilot Club's annual holiday bazaar.
It was the 10-year-old's first public performance.
"That was the moment I realized, 'This is what I want to do,'" said Sickles, 17.
Ever since that day, Sickles has been chasing her dream of becoming a professional singer.
She got her biggest opportunity yet on Saturday when she sang the national anthem at the Birmingham Bowl.
Over 25,000 people were in attendance to watch the Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeat the Memphis Tigers at Legion Field.
The size of the crowd didn't intimidate Sickles, who has been performing the national anthem at local sporting events for years.
"Singing is one thing that I have never gotten nervous doing. I've always felt really natural about it," she said.
Sickles was invited to sing at the Birmingham Bowl after winning the bowl games's first anthem search.
The Cordova High School senior's video of singing the national anthem at a Birmingham Barons game earned her a spot in the final four on Nov. 27.
After a little over a week of fan voting, Sickles was announced as one of the final two finalists on Dec. 8. Supporters of each finalist then had 24 hours to determine the winner.
Sickles received over 1,300 votes from family, friends and fellow CHS students during the final 24 hours of the contest.
Though the Birmingham Bowl exposed Sickles to a wider audience, she has long been a crowd favorite at Cordova sporting events.
She sings at all of the Blue Devils' home basketball and softball games and performed at the Toy Bowl team's playoff championship game in Cordova several years ago.
Sickles has also performed at a variety of school assemblies. One of her favorite performances was during last year's talent show when she sang Reba McEntire's hit "Fancy."
She wore a black fur coat as McEntire does in the song's iconic music video. At the end of the performance, she unbuttoned the coat to reveal the red dress referenced in the song.
Sickles is grateful for the support she has received from the CHS faculty and student body, especially when she tried out for American Idol in Muscle Shoals last year.
"All the kids at school really stand behind me and support me. (CHS basketball coach) Coach Burns, (Principal) Mrs. Vintson and all the teachers have really helped and pushed me to go after my dream along with my mom, dad and the rest of my family," she said.
Sickles also has a support system at Athletic Arts Center in Jasper and especially in voice teacher Cindy Laing. Sickles has been taking lessons from Laing, a fellow Cordova native, since she was 9 years old.
When Sickles graduates in the spring, she plans to attend Bevill State Community College and then transfer to Athens State University to earn a degree in elementary education.
However, she isn't giving up on her dream of becoming a professional singer — more specifically, a country music singer.
She got a boost of encouragement when she won the 13 and over vocal category at the Star Systems National Talent Competition held at the Alabama Theatre in the spring.
"I knew then that this was something I could do for the rest of my life," she said.