When Quiana McElroy was in second grade she had stage fright.
But you would never know that by watching the surprisingly seasoned singer and dancer, now 16, perform. McElroy studies voice and piano locally with Stefanie Bouchard and has danced with Vergine's Dance Studio. She has been in borough choir for two years and made All State in her sophomore year.
This year the junior at Soldotna High School, know by her friends and family as "Q," was chosen to sing in the Sound of America Honor Chorus and Band, which toured Europe last month.
"It was amazing. I loved all of the places," McElroy said. "It is so different than here in Alaska."
Her favorite place performing overseas was the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, she said.
The process of getting selected for the Sound of America program was rigorous, said McElroy's grandmother and guardian, Dianne Ireland. The application called for letters of recommendation and school transcripts.
"They wanted to make sure they brought all good kids," Ireland said.
Once selected, the students met up in Elizabethtown, Pa., for four days of intensive rehearsals before embarking on the three-week tour of Europe.
"They had four days to put together a concert they took to Europe," she said.
The group then flew to Germany to begin their concerts.
"From Germany they traveled across six countries," Ireland said, listing St. Mark's Basilica in Venice among the venues.
According to Ireland, the musical group consisted of about 180 teenagers from across the nation, with McElroy and another girl from Kodiak representing Alaska.
"It was a great experience for her," she said.
Ireland said she always knew McElroy would be a star.
"She's always been musically amazing," she said.
Her favorite song in McElroy's repertoire is "At Last," made popular by Etta James.
McElroy sang it two years ago at the wedding for the daughter of Ireland's boss, Terry Best.
"It makes me cry," she said.
Best, owner of Soldotna's Best Transit Mix, helped sponsor McElroy so she could go to Europe.
"I just think the people in this community are awesome when they're helping each other out," Ireland said.
McElroy also received support from the Boys and Girls Club, an organization she has been heavily involved in over the years.
At the Kenai Peninsula State Fair this weekend, McElroy will be competing in the Alaska's Got Talent competition, where she has hopes of competing in the statewide talent contest at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer next month.
And when she gets up on the stage this weekend she won't even bat an eye thanks to her elementary school music teacher who cured her stage fright. The teacher told McElroy, right before she went on stage to sing a solo in a school play, that she could do anything.
That was the first and last time McElroy was ever scared of performing.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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