By James Beaty
Trevor McBane says having renowned country music singer and instrumentalist Roy Clark serve as one of the five judges who selected him as the first McAlester STAR made winning the title even more special.
“That was unbelievable,” McBane said. “For anyone in the southern part of the United States, that would be an honor.
“He’s a country music icon.”
For McBane, his choice to perform the traditional spiritual song “Wayfaring Stranger” at the competition proved a natural. His version combined the elements of three of his favorite types of music: gospel, country and what some call Appalachia or mountain music —although McBane calls it something else.
“I’m in love with old-timey, haunting music,” he said.
McBane, who is an 18-year-old Savanna High School senior, received $500 for winning the inaugural McAlester STAR competition. He and the other performers also had the satisfaction of knowing they contributed their talents to a fundraiser for the RiteCare Clinic inside the Masonic Center in McAlester.
McBane said he’s been singing as a solo performer for little more than a year. Like many others, he did his first serious solo singing in church, in his case the First Baptist Church of Savanna.
Although he said he had sang for most of his life in church, he had mostly been in the background or participated in group singing. Then, he decided to try it on his own.
“I showed up at a fifth Sunday singing,” McBane said, referring to the tradition practiced among a number of churches in the area of having members of the congregation perform special songs on months with five Sundays, usually on the last Sunday or Sunday night of the month.
McBane recalls getting a few puzzled looks when others learned he planned a solo performance.
“I sang ‘Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)’ by Chris Tomlin,” McBane said. By the time he hit the last notes, tears were flowing.
Following his solo debut, McBane made a few other personal appearances, including singing at the Carsyn Kay Hackler Walk to Remember in Kiowa and at a 4-H talent show, which he also won.
McBane said he had originally planned on singing a different song at the McAlester STAR competition, but he decided he wanted to sing acapella, with no accompaniment, so “Wayfaring Stranger” seemed a natural choice.
McBane said he’s watched plenty of talent competitions on TV.
“I noticed they always have people sing acapella on their final round,” he said.
Since the artists who performed at the McAlester STAR competition were in rooms backstage, McBane said he didn’t get to hear any of the other performers, except for the artist immediately preceding him.
“I went into it blind,” he said. “I was pretty nervous.” Even so, McBane felt he gave a strong performance and obviously others in the auditorium agreed.
McBane has some plans for the future.
“My plans are to graduate high school,” he said. I’m enrolled at Eastern. I’m going into vocal music and meat science.”
McBane’s original goal is to get into health management with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but he’s also looking at another option.
“The way my musical career is blossoming, I’d like to pursue that,” he said.
McBane lives south of Savanna, near Kiowa, with his mom and dad, Julie and David McBane. He said he also has a small livestock operation with his grandmother, Leavona Arterburn.
“I buy, sell and trade goats and sheep,” he said.
He cites some of his favorite artists as Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton and Rascal Flatts.
Hey, McEntire, Brooks, Shelton and Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney are all from Oklahoma. Is there a trend here?
“I love my Okies,” McBane chuckled.
As for winning the McAlester STAR competition, McBane is thrilled, but he also put a lot of preparation into it.
“It was awesome — a hard work paying off kind of thing,” he said.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.