In front of thousands in Virginia, Audrey Sessoms was ready to represent North Carolina by showing off her piano skills.
“Before I played, I prayed for about 30 seconds to a minute,” Audrey said during an interview this week.
She exhaled and began to strike the keys, debuting her performance at the National Beta Club convention in Richmond, Va.
“Usually after about two or three minutes, your whole body isn’t as tense,” she said. “You know everybody is there. If someone coughs or something, you’re going to be like, ‘somebody is out there.’”
The rising junior from Sampson Early College High School, placed 10th at the competition in special talent category.
“I was nervous,” she admitted. “There were 3,000 to 5,000 people there. I just kind of shook it off. It was scary.”
For the national competition, she played the “Peacherine Rag” by Scott Joplin. It was a challenging piece, she was quick to point out.
Her journey to Virginia began when she was selected to compete at the state level, following an audition at the school.
During that audition, Audrey played the theme song from “Romeo and Juliet” and for state competition she performed “Maple Leaf Rag.”
“It was a level 10 piece, which is pretty high in piano,” Audrey said.
After the North Carolina competition in early winter, she was upset about a moment in her performance.
“I get really scared and really nervous,” she said. “At one point I lost where I was in there. I got off stage and started crying.”
But the next night was a little better.
“I heard my name and I knew that I was going to nationals,” she said. “I was like ‘wow, I’m doing this for the whole state.’”
It’s the first time the school was represented in the National Beta competition.
Anna Gillespie, Beta advisor, said Audrey is a talented young lady.
“She worked very hard to get to the national level,” Gillespie said. “I’m so proud of her going up in front of so many people.”
Beta Club is an academic and community service based organization.
“It gets them more involved in the school and community activities,” Gillespie pointed out. “It’s an honor for them to be in the Beta Club as well.”
Audrey enjoys being a member of the organization and the services it provides.
“We have to help lead others in a good way,” she said about the organization.
Audrey has been playing piano for six years. In the fifth grade, she began by using small keyboard and later received lessons from Robert Bell.
“I’m just happy that I’ve taken up piano or I wouldn’t have gotten this far,” she said.
After high school, Sessoms has plans to study in the medical field, while taking up a minor in music.
Her grandmother, Faye Sessoms, said she has done well.
“It takes a lot of guts to get up there,” Faye Sessoms said. “She can go real far.”