By Jessica Farrish
Years before she was on American Idol, Jada Vance was a star.
The 17-year-old Nashville artist and 2013 American Idol contestant with strong West Virginia roots has always been a people person, her mom Alesia Vance said.
“She just loves life,” said Vance. “She always excels at school and has always been a leader.
“Her second grade teacher said if we put Jada in charge and told her to get every kid on the bus, Jada would do it and say, ‘What’s next?’
“I just think it’s her good heart.”
Jada, who was born and grew up in Tennessee, is coming to Beckley to perform Friday for fair-goers at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia 10th annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair, held at the Paul Cline Memorial Youth Soccer Complex.
She says although she’s a native Tennessean, West Virginia is her home.
“It’s my favorite,” said Jada. “My whole family is from West Virginia.
“From the time I can
remember, I remember going up there, and I’ve never not called West Virginia home,” she explained. “My whole family was born in West Virginia, even my brother.
“I was just the unlucky one that didn’t get to be born in West Virginia.”
Birthplace mishaps aside, Jada says she’s “blessed.”
The cheerleader hasn’t yet finished high school, but she’s already performed on national television as a contestant on the FOX hit “American Idol.”
She also has strong family support both personally and professionally, she added.
“My mom ... has made financial sacrifices,” she said. “My grandmother and grandfather (Mose Vance, formerly of Pineville), before he passed away, was a big motivation.”
She said that her mother, a disabled veteran and single parent, and her grandmother have supported her pursuit of her musical career, which began when she auditioned for Idol.
“They just want me to get where I want to be,” she said.
Jada said she’s just recorded her first singles album, “Read My Lipstick.”
Although she’s also a songwriter, the songs on the album were penned by Tennessee relatives Billy and Chip Davis, who work in the music industry.
“Some of my family are singer/songwriters, and they are part of the music industry, and they wrote these songs when they were my age,” said Jada. “When I started doing Idol, they were like, ‘We have these songs, and they’re so sassy, and you’re so sassy, and that’ll be just perfect for you.
“So I said, let’s sit down in the studio, and we’ll check them out,” she said. “We’ve adjusted some stuff, and it was perfect.
“I guess it was meant to be.”
Vance said Jada’s strong faith and church ties have helped to “keep her grounded” since she first auditioned for Idol in August 2012.
“I try to tell her how important it is to stay grounded and how blessed we are,” she said. “Just be good to people, no matter what level you are in life.”
Jada said part of the Idol experience she enjoyed was the opportunity to meet people from different cultures, states and countries.
She added that it’s hard to describe how it feels to perform on Idol.
“It was unexplainable, really,” she said. “You really can’t explain an opportunity like that.
“You don’t get it very often at all.”
Jada will perform cuts from “Read My Lipstick” Friday night. The show starts at 7 p.m.
Admission to the grounds is $2.
Boy Scouts in uniform receive free admission.
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Meet and greet
West Virginia University basketball fans will have an opportunity to meet West Virginia University graduate assistant coach Da’Sean Butler and WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia Friends of Coal Auto Fair Saturday.
Butler, a Newark, N.J., native who was drafted 42nd overall by the Miami Heat in the 2010 NBA draft is currently a graduate assistant coach for WVU Coach Bob Huggins.
Luck, a WVU graduate from Cleveland, Ohio, is director of intercollegiate athletics at WVU and a retired football player who spent four seasons in the NFL as a quarterback for the Houston Oilers. Luck also served as the first president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, taking the Dynamos to wins in the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007.
Luck and Butler will be at the Friends of Coal Ladies’ Auxiliary tent between noon and 5 p.m. Saturday.
— Jessica Farrish