National recording star and gospel/bluegrass singer Kelly Coberly auditioned for the nationally televised show, 'America's Got Talent' in November 2019.

‘America’s Got Talent,’ and two local singers are hoping they make the cut for the popular NBC show

BUCKHANNON – Since 2006, a much-watched television show, “America’s Got Talent,” has received high rankings from oodles of fans. In November 2019, two local artists auditioned for the show and both are patiently waiting to hear if they will move on to the next phase of appearing on the show.

Upshur County singer-songwriters Carrie E.A. Rice and Kelly Coberly both auditioned last month hoping to be considered as contestants on “America’s Got Talent” and although they will be hearing if they made the cut in late February or March, they said they will be unable to share that news until after they would, if selected, appear on the show. AGT is a televised American talent show that airs on NBC and seeks to discover undiscovered talent.

Rice said the opportunity to audition was both exciting, but also made her nervous.

“I doubt that I’ll win this thing, but I do believe I may get more recognition and exposure for my music by auditioning,” Rice shared. “I’ve been writing music for so many years now, and I’m hoping that my music will be heard by the right person one day.”

Local singer-songwriter Carrie E.A. Rice recently auditioned for ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Rice is hoping that even if she’s not chosen, the decision will expose her to a wider audience. / Photo courtesy Carrie Rice

She said she posts lots of her original songs and cover tunes on YouTube, Facebook and ReverbNation.

“I’ve posted mostly all of my original songs on Facebook unless it was a link shared from YouTube of a cover song,” she said. “I have always tried to market myself, and I’ve had no luck with this. I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, doing this will get me out there in front of a bigger audience, where more people can hear my music and love, appreciate, understand and relate to every lyric of every story in every song.”

Rice said her plan is to just keep opening and closing doors until she finds the one standing wide open, full of opportunities.

“I hope this door will lead me to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that will acknowledge this great passion and endless dedication I have and will forever have for music,” Rice said. “I may not become famous, but I do intend on making it far. Music is truly what keeps me alive! Without it, my heart wouldn’t beat.”

When asked to describe her music, Rice said she calls it ‘Carrie Music.’

“I never know what genre to put on my music,” she said. “I think some of my songs could be classified as rock, some as country, some as pop, some as blues and some as folk. I’ll just leave that up to the listener to decide.”

She said she writes her own music and lyrics and sings and plays the guitar.

“Most people will probably be surprised by this, but you don’t actually have to be selected to audition for AGT,” Rice said. “Anyone can sign up to attend one of the ‘open calls’ they have in nine different cities. You can also submit an audition video online as well.”

Originally, she had planned to travel to New York City in November for a live audition but opted to submit her audition as a video online.

Rice was born and raised in Buckhannon and moved to Pennsylvania when she was 13 years old.

“There I really enjoyed listening to my mother’s (Linda Lee) music,” she said. “Eventually I learned the words and would sing long with her music. That’s how I discovered I could sing. After I learned to play the guitar, I started to write songs. So far, I have recorded two albums, ‘Typical Life’ recorded in 1997 and ‘The Best of Me’ in 2009. I am in the process of recording my third album ‘Stepping Stones’ now and will be releasing it digitally on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music and Tidal.”

Kelly Coberly is celebrating 20 years of singing. She said she is a national recording star who started out singing country, bluegrass and gospel music. She was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia; however, she said she moved to Buckhannon when she was just two weeks old and has lived in Buckhannon most of her life.

“Five years ago, I was called into ministry and started singing gospel music,” Coberly said. “I started recording seven albums. I sing mostly gospel music now, having grown up with a bluegrass music family. My father was a bluegrass musician and we traveled the bluegrass circuit.”

Coberly said she’s won 17 musical awards and has had some songs on the radio, including six in the top five on the radio.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a singer and perform, but I had to learn to get over my stage fright,” she said. “I was in my early 20s before I was able to go on stage and sing. However, I always would sing in church as a child and a teen.”

Right now, Coberly said she mostly performs in churches and for private parties singing country, bluegrass and gospel music.

So, what made Coberly decide to audition for “America’s Got Talent”?

“I watch ‘America’s Got Talent,’ ‘The Voice’ and ‘American Idol’ – in fact it’s about the only television I watch,” Coberly said. “I have watched them for years – I’m too old to audition for ‘American Idol,’ so I decided to give ‘America’s Got Talent’ a shot.”

Coberly said she auditioned in November.

“I auditioned for AGT last year in Detroit, Michigan and I decided to do it again this year,” Coberly said, adding she went to Louisville, Kentucky to audition this year. “We won’t know anything until February or March … that’s when we’ll know if we made it to the next round; but even if we do make it, it is confidential information. If we make it through to the next round, we won’t be able to tell anyone.”

She said when she went to Louisville to audition, she had registered online prior.

“They email you an audition pass and you wait in line and register before going to a holding room,” she said. “The holding room is cool. There is a little stage, and you sit there until your number is called and then you go into the audition room in groups of about 10. The 10 contestants then do their performance for the producer while the other nine contestants get to watch your talent.”

Coberly said when singers audition, they sing a cappella, or without musical accompaniment.

“It was very interesting to see all of the different talent that was gathered there,” she said. “You are allowed 90 seconds to perform when you audition for the show.”

She began her music career helping her grandparents in their recording studio in Broadway, Virginia shrink-wrapping cassette tapes at age 7 and started singing in her school choir at age 9. Her album “Remember West Virginia Coal” was a tribute to her hometown in Upshur County following the January 2006 Sago Mine tragedy.

“I am extremely blessed to be able to do what I love, and to able to use the talent God has given me, and to share His word in song,” Coberly said. “If I can bless someone with my music, and lead them closer to the Lord, then my mission has been accomplished. I want everyone to be able to experience the joy of having God in their life.”

Her music is available on YouTube, ReverbNation and Facebook.

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