STORY BY Rachelle Broussard
With a spring in her step and hitting the high notes, 11-year-old Ava Schmidt of Lafayette Parish sang her way to victory at the junior talent contest during the 94th annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans Friday night.
Her confidence showed with great stage presence and tremendous poise.
"I feel confident on stage and I don't worry," said Schmidt after being named the winner. "I just focus on having fun."
Schmidt started competing at six years old. Her mom, Candi Carriere, said she often sang around the house but performed her first solo at her daycare Christmas program.
"Since then she's been asked to perform the national anthem at numerous events across the state," said Carriere.
Schmidt sang Dolly Parton's Classic hit "9 to 5." She's traveled to New York twice for the Talent America International finals and hopes to appear on the television show the "X Factor".
Schmidt works regularly with vocal coach Valerie Keiper based in Lafayette.
"I am so proud of Ava," Carriere said. "She is so driven. I will support her as long as she loves what she is doing,"
Schmidt said she stays positive and shares the message to believe in yourself. She plays soccer, volleyball and is a former vice-president of her 4-H group. She said besides singing, she'd also like to pursue a career in physical therapy. Schmidt comes from a family of farmers in Avoyelles and Rapides Parishes.
Cheering for her in the audience were her mom and her step-father, Scottie Carriere, as well as her dad and brother, Robert and Michael Schmidt.
First runner-up was Annabelle Mack of Tangipahoa Parish. Second runner-up was Christian Louque of St. James Parish.