Centre Sings crowns winner

Hannah Richardson got the itch to sing when she was 6 years old after performing at a church in Franklin County, where she grew up.

Now, the State College seventh-grader can call herself the 2014 Centre Sings winner — and an Interfaith Human Services donor.

Despite falling short of its fundraising goal, IHS said the first Centre Sings competition turned out a success. The competition raised about $7,500.

The total included a surprise donation by its 12-year-old winner.

Upon receiving $500 and the Centre Sings trophy, Hannah turned around and gave $100 to Interfaith.

“It’s one of those things where I feel like you get money in life and find others who need it more than I do,” Hannah said.

The vocal competition showcased local singers, who passed preliminary and semifinal rounds to reach the finals, while raising money for IHS programs that serve low-income families in Centre County, said Executive Director Ruth Donahue.

In its 45th year, IHS is a nonprofit collaboration of 29 local faith communities.

Other than the “ Wishing Well Campaign,” which raises money through donations collected outside The Corner Room and Meyer Dairy, Centre Sings is Interfaith’s major fundraising event, Donahue said.

“Centre Sings had a great finale,” Donahue said.

At the finals on Sunday, Hannah performed “I Wanna Be a Rockette,” an off-Broadway number by Tom Eyen and Alan Menken, with an encore performance of “At Last” by Etta James.

Donahue said the performances “brought the audience to their feet in appreciation of her talent.”

“Her performance was outstanding, catching the judges’ attention with her excellent vocals, charisma and commitment to the performance,” Donahue said.

A local music producer approached Hannah in March to try out for the competition after hearing her perform the national anthem at a Penn State wrestling match.

She tried out in April, qualified as a semifinalist May 9 and was one of a dozen — among 23 semifinalists — who made the cut to perform at the finals at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in State College.

“I’m new to State College, so this was really cool,” Hannah said.

She and her family moved to the area from Waynesboro last year. Hannah is currently in a cyber school, but will attend Park Forest Middle School for eighth grade.

Her most recent competition was in March at Happy Valley’s Got Talent, in which she placed second.

Hannah also has performed at the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nashville Theater Palace for The North America Country Music Association, Hershey Park and The Apollo Theater in New York City for Child Stars of Tomorrow.

She earned first place in Nashville and New York City, and is currently recording an album with original and cover songs.

“Of course, like any parent, (I’m) proud,” said Hannah’s mother, Mary Richardson. “It’s not unusual to think your child could win, but here was some very good competition and we were still surprised.”

Zachary Kramer, 20, was the runner up. He performed “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and received a $150 cash prize.

Donahue said Centre Sings 2015 is already in the works.