Miss Mississippi State University Laura Lee Lewis, 21, of Brookhaven, ties as a winner in the first night of the preliminary competition Wednesday. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)
Miss Mississippi State University Laura Lee Lewis, 21, of Brookhaven, ties as a winner in the first night of the preliminary competition Wednesday. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Three winners in first night of preliminaries

Published 11:15am Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three winners were chosen last night in the first round of preliminary competitions at the 80th annual Miss Mississippi Pageant.

Miss Riverland Jasmine Murray and Miss Mississippi State University Laura Lee Lewis tied for the talent portion of the competition and Miss Historic South Randi-Kathryn Harmon won swimsuit.

All three contestants are Mississippi State University students and veterans of the competition. This is the third time competing for Murray and Harmon and the second for Lewis.

Dressed in a red-sequined pants suit, Murray sang her rendition of “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.”

The 22-year-old said she chose the song because it’s entertaining and she thought it would relate to several generations.

“It was first sung by Etta James,” said Murray. More recently Christina Aguilera sang it in the 2010 film “Burlesque.”

Murray said she has spent countless hours practicing for the talent portion of the Miss Mississippi Pageant and added that it is her favorite phase of the competition.

Wearing a black velvet evening gown for the talent portion of the competition, Lewis sang “Piece of Sky” from the 1983 film “Yentl.”

“I’m obsessed with Barbara Streisand and I love the message of this song,” she said.

Lewis, who is 21 years old, said she has been singing since she was 3.

“My mom was a voice major,” she said, adding that her mom has been helping her prepare for the talent portion of the competition.

Harmon wore a two-piece black swimsuit to win the swimwear portion of the competition. She stays fit by working out in the gym and monitoring what she eats.

“I love working out. It is my stress reliever and when I work out I am stress free,” she said.

Packing her own lunch this week, the 21-year-old said her exercise and diet regimen are not just temporary for the pageant, but are part of a routine she has been dedicated to since she was a senior in high school.

“My dad suffered a massive heart attack and after that my whole family made a decision to get healthy,” she said.

The preliminary competitions will continue tonight and Friday at the Vicksburg Convention Center. A composite score from the three preliminary competitions in talent, swimwear, evening wear, on-stage questions and off-stage interviews will determine who will be in the top 10, which will be announced at the beginning of the final competition on Saturday night and the 2014 Miss Mississippi will be crowned.

This year’s theme for the pageant is My Mississippi and features songs made popular by Mississippi artists, from country to blues to rock and roll. Vicksburg native Katherine Bailess, who plays Kyle Hart in the VH1 television series “Hit the Floor,” performs in three of the shows’ production numbers. Other entertainers for the pageant include Greginald Spencer, Kimberly Morgan-Myles, who was Miss Mississippi 2007, Jason Miller, the 2014 Miss Mississippi Pageant dancers and the Miss Mississippi Magnolia Prince and Princesses.

The state pageant is a preliminary for the Miss America competition, which will be held in Atlantic City in September.

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