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‘Idol’ contender tuned up in Shelby

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By Danna Zabrovsky

A North Oldham High School student who tuned her musical skills in Shelby County earned a golden ticket to Hollywood by producers of American Idol.
"It's my dream. I just really want it," 16-year-old Brandy Neelly said in her Idol post-audition interview, which is posted on YouTube.
Neelly and her family were jumping for joy when they learned that she would move on in the competition.
"What a moment," Neelly’s mother, Cheryl Case, said. "It was as much fun as it looks."
Neelly sings mostly country, according to her photographer Lori Taylor Reeder, but has been known to sing "crazy pop" songs too. Her renditions of Carrie Underwood's “Undo It and Heart's Alone” wowed the Idol judges and earned her a golden ticket to Hollywood and the next, more competitive round of auditions.
"She's just a fun, spunky little kid that loves to sing and has enjoyed success at local competitions," Reeder said.
Though Neelly is inspired by country artists and other musicians, her family is the greatest inspiration of all.
She was adopted as a baby, and said in another YouTube video that she has "a village" supporting her.
Denise Tracy of Shelbyville, Neelly's aunt and Case's sister, said in an E-mail that her parents, Harold and Mary Decker of Shelbyville, introduced Neelly to local jamborees and taught her to sing.
"Brandy spends a lot of weekends and summers at the farm working on her music with my father," Tracy said.
She also started her singing, Tracy wrote, in preschool programs at Clear Creek Elementary and she later sang at karaoke nights at Cattleman’s, among other appearances.
Case said Harold Decker is so proud to see her come this far.
He was first to notice her vocal talent on a family road trip to Florida. Neelly was 9 years old, singing along to the car radio.
"He's the only vocal coach she's ever had, and he's not a vocal coach at all," Case said. "He must be the link where the talent comes from, because it's not from her mother or father."
Neelly's talent has blossomed in her teenage years.
She competes across the state, and she and her family have talked about starting a local jamboree for young singers to display their talents.
Last summer, Neelly was runner-up in the Beech Bend Super Star Singing Competition in Bowling Green, and gained some attention from management companies in Nashville.
"Brandy's on the cusp. She's a little young for all of this, but they saw great potential in her," Case said.
Case could not divulge much information about her daughter's progress on American Idol but described the Nashville audition as "overwhelming," and said that it was "an incredible experience to watch it even unfold."
Reeder does not know whether Neelly has moved on from the Hollywood round, but she speculates that she didn't make the cut.
"My guess is that she didn't make it past there, just based upon other things that we've seen and heard," Reeder said, though declining to elaborate.
Classmates have told The Oldham Era that Neelly was absent from NOHS For two weeks in  December to participate in American Idol.
Neelly appeared for a few seconds on last week's show. Case does not know whether she will be featured on the Hollywood week episodes.
"Just keep your eye out for her, because she is what American Idol is looking for: young, emerging talent," Case said.
Idol’s Hollywood week will air on FOX on Feb. 16 and 17.