At a glance …
• Craig resident Melissa Hawthorne named a semifinalist in Voice of McDonald’s competition.
• Hawthorne, store manager of the McDonald’s restaurant in Craig, took first place in the Rocky Mountain region during the semifinalist round of worldwide singing competition for McDonald’s employees.
• The next stage of the contest pits Hawthorne against 21 other semifinalists in a round of online voting.
• If Hawthorne ranks in the top three, she is to compete at McDonald’s 2012 Worldwide Convention in Orlando, Fla., for a $25,000 grand prize.
“But I’m very excited to be able to have the opportunity to be at the next level and can’t wait to start the process.”
— Melissa Hawthorne, store manager of McDonald’s restaurant in Craig
Monday was just another day at the McDonald’s restaurant in Craig.
Or, at least that’s what store manager Melissa Hawthorne thought.
About a month ago, Hawthorne entered the fourth Voice of McDonald’s, a singing competition for McDonald’s employees worldwide. But, on Monday morning, she wasn’t thinking about how she fared in the contest.
It wasn’t until the cake, flowers and balloons arrived that Hawthorne knew Monday was different.
Her superiors, co-workers and family members surprised her with news that she was one of 22 semifinalists in the Voice of McDonald’s competition.
“Total shock,” Hawthorne said, describing her reaction.
Hawthorne, of Craig, took first place in the Rocky Mountain region during the semifinalist round, beating out competitors from 750 McDonald’s restaurants in seven states, including Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona, she said.
It’s a long way to come for someone who was once reluctant to sing in front of a crowd.
“I do have a passion (for) singing,” said Hawthorne, a 1999 Moffat County High School graduate.
But, she added, “I just never had the courage to do it. I always liked it, but … I was really, really, shy when I was young.”
It wasn’t until her early 20s that she pushed her bashfulness aside.
“I wasn’t afraid, I guess you could say, to share it,” she said.
Since then, she’s sung at weddings and at the occasional karaoke machine, “anywhere I can sing,” she said.
Chris Nichols, owner and operator of Craig McDonalds, persuaded her to participate in the contest, she said.
“We pointed out the contest to her because I knew she really enjoyed to sing and she was pretty good,” he said.
So, in mid-August, Hawthorne was in the KRAI studio, singing Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” the piece she would send to the judges.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “You don’t really know what to expect, I guess.”
With the help of friends and family, she later paired the audio recording with a music video filmed by her mother and a friend at a former bus depot in Craig.
Hawthorne’s status as a semifinalist secured her a spot in the next round of the competition. And this time, the public will be doing the judging.
She and other semifinalists will vie for votes on the competition’s website, www.voiceofmcdonalds.com. Voting is open to the public from Oct. 7 through Nov. 1.
If she’s one of the top three who get the most votes, she’ll perform live at the McDonald’s 2012 Worldwide Convention in Orlando, Fla., for the $25,000 grand prize.
Now that she’s facing a much larger audience, Hawthorne is feeling those familiar jitters. She’s “a little nervous, of course” about the next stage of the competition, she said.
But this time, she also feels something else.
“But I’m very excited to be able to have the opportunity to be at the next level and can’t wait to start the process,” she said.
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