Four Vicksburgers compete for a place on the Grand Ole Opry Stage

Published 11:46 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Belle Spires sang “Born To Fly” by Sarah Evans Saturday during the Inspirational Country Music Associations’ Showcase.

Even though she got a thunderous round of applause, it was not enough to place her in the top five. Spires said she isn’t going to let this setback deter her from her ultimate goal, which is to one day perform on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

She will compete again in two weeks at a showcase in Lake Arthur, La.

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Spires was not the only Vicksburg resident to perform at the ICMA showcase on Saturday.

Matthew Funches, a former resident of Bassfield, Miss., and now resides in Vicksburg, performed while accompanying himself on the keyboard. Funches works and lives at the River City Rescue Mission. He credits singing and playing the keyboard with his recovery from addiction.

He also sporadically plays the keyboard on Sunday at Living Waters. He credited the congregation for urging him to compete.

“Mister Ernie and David White gave me the opportunity to participate in the ICMA’s showcase,” Matthew said.

When asked about playing piano he said, “I have been playing piano since I was able to walk.”

Peyton Pierce and Gavin Standish were two other Vicksburg residents who competed in the showcase.

None of the Vicksburg residents placed in the top five, but they said the competition was well worth the time and effort.

To learn more about Inspirational Country Music Association, go to