Marion youth aims for ?Voice?

Justin Terrel hugs his mother, Sharon, prior to his departure Friday for Denver, Colo., and a regional audition for ?The Voice? television show.Justin Terrel was just 3 years old when his preschool teacher noticed he had a talent for singing.

Now at age 17, the Marion teenager has his sights set on NBC?s hit show ?The Voice,? and on Saturday he cleared the first hurdle by receiving a red card during his first audition in Denver, Colo.

According to his mother, Sharon, the red card guaranteed Justin a recording studio appearance Monday.

?I think what happens next is Justin will sing three or four songs (at the studio) that might be recorded and taken back to California for the producers on the show to hear,? she said.

?I don?t think we will know anything (Monday),? she said. ?Justin will just sing the songs and we will go home and later get a phone call or email.?

Prior to Justin?s second round, Sharon said they filled out a lot of paperwork, with questions ranging from where the closest airport is and if he would be available to travel to California for up to two or three weeks anytime from July to September.

Recent performance

Sharon said Justin could only choose one person to go with him for the audition Saturday morning. He chose his brother-in-law, Chris Hancock.

The day started early with the two of them needing to be at the University of Denver by 7 a.m.

?Chris told me there were about 2,000 people auditioning in the morning,? she said.

Chris said Justin?s performance was ?amazing.?

Prior to leaving for the audition, Justin was given a surprise send-off from the people with whom they were staying.

Yvonne Heidel and Jerry Pankratz, formerly of Marion, made sure Justin went off to the audition in style.

?They had a limousine come and pick us up, and the limousine driver came to the door and asked for Justin Terrel,? Sharon said.

Once the limousine dropped off Justin and Chris at the audition, it would be nine hours before they were finished for the day.

?They had to go through security, then there was paperwork after paperwork, sorting people out here and there and then the audition,? Sharon said.

Friday?s send-off

More than 20 friends and relatives were dressed in specially made T-shirts supporting Justin and his trip to Colorado.

During an interview last week, Justin said he was ready for auditions.

?I am feeling excited,? he said. ?I plan to go over the songs over and over again before the performance.?

Justin said he isn?t nervous, but hopes to go far.

?It is also really encouraging to have so many people come out (to the send-off),? he said.

Sharon said she knows more people would have liked to see Justin off, but they were working.

Family members who were with Justin in Colorado included his mother, brother-in-law, sister Kendra and high school friend Mason Pedersen.

Early indications

Sharon said she didn?t know the depth of her son?s talent until his preschool teacher pulled her aside one day.

?Bub (Justin?s nickname) has talent and he can really sing,? the preschool teacher told Sharon.

Less than a year later, Sharon started noticing her son?s talent, too.

?He was about 4 years old, and while in the backseat of our car, he blurted out the Toby Keith song, ?How Do You Like Me Now.??

By age 5, he was singing in front of an audience in Newton.

?Justin sang ?God Bless the USA? dressed in fatigues,? she said. ?It was really cute.?

Since then, Sharon said her son has sung at church and at weddings.

?Justin sang the national anthem at several Marion High School basketball games, and last year at the Marion County Fair.?

He also had the lead role in Marion High?s production of ?Footloose? last fall.

?Some people can do sports, some people are book-smart, but Justin?s talent is in singing and performing,? Sharon said.

Justin is also no stranger in the national singing arena after trying out for a place on ?The X-Factor,? a music competition created by Simon Cowell.

?I told him you are going to have to sing to the crowd (at ?The X-Factor? audition), and the crowd has to like you,? she said.

Justin got through all the preliminary rounds, receiving a certificate for each one, she said. On the last day, in front of four of the show?s producers, they said they would let him know how he did by email or phone.

?He had to wait a month,? she said, ?Justin was one of 900 (out of 6,000 people) on the last day.?

Even though he was still in the running, ?The X-Factor? producers were looking for good, bad, silly and weird for the show.

?If nothing else, he got a lot of experience, which helped prepare him for ?The Voice,?? Sharon said. ?Whatever happens this time, he won?t stop, but will keep on going.

?I think if the right person connects with him, he will become a very talented artist.?

A gift from God

Sharon said she believes Justin?s singing talent is a gift God gave to him. She also said Justin still has hidden talents that have yet to be seen or heard.

?It?s all about singing (for him) and that?s where his gift lies,? she said.

?One thing I tell everybody is no matter what, I am very proud of him, but it is not what we want, it is in God?s hands.?

Updates on his recent audition will appear in a future edition.

To see a video of Justin performing, see below:

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