DIXFIELD — A Dirigo High School senior who received national recognition at a Tennessee country music competition last year has qualified to return in March.

Vocalist Melanie Jordan, 18, won fifth place in the 13- to 16-year-old age bracket for new modern country and a Future Star of Tomorrow Award trophy in March 2014 at the North America Country Music Association International competition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

There, aspiring country, gospel and bluegrass artists are given the opportunity to compete before state and international country music industry personnel.

Last year at the Downeast Country Music Association of Maine competition, Jordan won the association’s Junior Modern Vocalist, Entertainer of the Year and Duet of the Year, qualifying her for the Tennessee competition this year.

She won the duet title performing with Colin Merrill of Rumford, who also qualified to compete in March in Tennessee, Jordan said. They will perform together there in the duet competition.

Jordan splits her time between living with her mother, Mandy Bither Jordan, in Dixfield, and her father, Brian Jordan, in Canton.


Late Saturday afternoon at her mother’s house on Canton Point Road, Jordan talked about last year’s competition and how she’s improved since then.

“Vocally, I feel I’ve matured,” she said.

“Last year, I didn’t have enough stage presence, so this year I plan to exaggerate every move I make,” she said.

“I’ve been working on my stage presence by choreographing while performing my music,” she said. “Singing and dancing like a fool, you know. My mom says, ‘It may feel ridiculous to you, but it isn’t when you’re sitting off stage.’ So I learned you have to act very eccentric.”

Jordan said she can sing both lower and higher notes now than she could last year, because she didn’t have the range. Her comfort level at performing in front of large crowds has also improved.

“She performed all summer, which I think helped,” Bither Jordan said. “She did shows almost every weekend this summer and they weren’t just competitions, there were entertainment shows. Getting out there every weekend working and doing these shows developed a level of comfort for her.”


Jordan sipped coffee from her favorite owl mug as she sat beside the Ivarest acoustic guitar she won last year at the Dick Curless Pine Tree State Country Music Association event.

It’s her third guitar and she named it Sandra. She named her other guitars Jenny and Opy.

She and her mother, whose ancestors were Acadian musicians, are learning to play guitar. Jordan, a self-taught vocalist, said she feels more comfortable singing and performing while using a karaoke machine than performing to live music from a band.

She will have a larger list of “age appropriate” songs available to choose from for the Tennessee competition now that she’s in a more mature age bracket.

She will compete in the 17-20 age range in the vocalist, duet and entertainer categories. Last year in Tennessee she competed in the vocalist category in the 13-16 age group.

At home on Saturday, Jordan performed the national anthem after singing “There Is No Arizona” by Australian country music artist Jamie O’Neal.


Bither Jordan said they plan to choose songs that aren’t current for Melanie to perform, because fellow competitors sing the most current songs over and over again.

The pair has set up a funding page to raise $700 for their round-trip bus fare to Tennessee. It includes a hotel stay in Pennsylvania. So far, they have raised $285 in 15 days.

Having done the 16-hour bus ride before, they’re looking forward to it, because it’s with a group of friends and performers, some of whom will be competing. They’re also not as nervous as they were last year during their first trip outside Maine.

“We’re just looking forward to another trip down there and being able to show off her talent,” Bither Jordan said. “Going in, you know, as not-the-newbies is going to be fun.”

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