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Hardy dreams of country music stardom

By Staff
YOUNG ENTERTAINER – Madison Hardy shows off the trophy she won in 1997 as the Jimmie Rodgers Overall Youth Talent Winner and a photo of her as "Annie" when she starred in the Newton Theatre Company's 2001 production. Hardy has been singing since she was 3 and has competed in talent shows since she was 8. Below, Hardy holds copies of her favorite compact discs. Photos By Penny Randall / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
September 29, 2002
Like most 13-year-old girls, Madison Hardy of Philadelphia loves to talk on the phone for hours and enjoys going to the movies with her friends.
But this Neshoba Central Middle School eighth-grader also does something some teens may only dream about: She has recorded compact discs of country, gospel and Christmas music.
The Christmas disc is the most recent recording from Hardy an amateur who has won several regional talent contests. She said she believes it is her best work.
Last October, Hardy was asked to sing the national anthem at the Montgomery Gentry concert at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center in Meridian.
Early start
Sarah Hardy first noticed her daughter's excitement about singing when she was just 3 years old. Sarah remembers the first time she heard Madison sing a entire song.
Madison's first public performance was at pre-school when she was 5. Madison sang "Under the Sea" from the "The Little Mermaid."
Madison would come home from school and her mom would read the lyrics and then sing the melody to her until her daughter knew the entire song by heart.
From there, Madison moved on to the talent contest scene.
Talent contests
For someone who once performed in front of 5-year-olds, singing to a crowd of thousands came naturally to Madison.
In 1997, a friend of Madison's mom mentioned the possibility that the child could perform at the talent show that is part of the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival in Meridian.
Sarah and Madison agreed to give it a try.
To their surprise, Madison, who was 8 at the time, won the overall youth talent show with the song "Angels Among Us." She competed against children through age 14.
Since then, Madison has won other talent shows.
She was named the Mississippi State Fair Overall Youth Talent Winner in 1998, the Neshoba County Fair Talent Winner in 1999 and the Mississippi Junior Beta Club Talent Winner in 2001.
Music recording
Madison participated in the Mid-South Fair Talent Show in Memphis on Sept. 22 alongside 300 other people. She made the top 72 and was headed back to Memphis for the final round of competition Friday.
Madison sang "I Turn to You" by Christina Aguilera.
In fact, it was country music that Madison chose to record on her first CD.
As the winner of the Hopes and Dreams Overall Talent Contest in 1998 in Manchester, Tenn., Madison won a day at a Nashville recording studio where she recorded the country CD.
Then, in 2000, she was the overall talent winner at the Richton Pecan Festival Gospel Talent Contest and won three hours at a studio in Pascagoula where she recorded her gospel CD.
School first
Despite her success with singing, Madison knows that school comes first.
Madison and her mom said they realize it's tough to make it big in the music business.
Madison said she will do something with her talent and it may be not necessarily involve being a country music entertainer.