Winning Abilene Idol confirmed what Brody Parris already suspected.
Singing, dancing and musical theater are his thing.
Brody, a Wylie West Junior High 8th-grader, recently won the Junior Division of the annual competition, which is a major fundraiser for Chorus Abilene. His win gives Wylie back-to-back winners in the Junior Division. Hadlee Wright won last year.
Brody is a veteran of the stage now, but it wasn’t that long ago that he didn’t even know he could sing. He was a fourth-grader who hadn’t really found an extra-curricular activity that interested him.
“I tried basketball and a bunch of other sports, and I didn’t think that was the right thing for me,” he said.
His music teacher, Cami Zimmerman, was having auditions that year for a production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Brody and his twin brother, Braxton, decided to try out.
“I just wanted to try something new because why not?” Brody said. “It turned out to be my favorite thing. That was the right thing for me.”
He was chosen to play the role of Charlie in the production, and his brother played Willy Wonka. Since then, Brody has played significant roles in numerous other musicals at school. He also has taken voice lessons, musical theater lessons and is now taking tap lessons.
Plus, he has been in a production of Newsies at the Paramount and was set to play the role of Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz at the Paramount when COVID shut that down.
Brody decided to try out for Abilene Idol in 2021 with his brother, and they both qualified for the finals. “A lot of my friends were saying that I should try it,” he said. “A lot of them tried out. I thought it was a great experience and that I should come back and do it again. I remember thinking that I was going to redo it until I got first. It was just so much fun to be able to do that with all my friends.”
So he returned in 2022 and once again qualified for the finals. This time he won.
Abilene Idol has an Adult Division as well as the Junior Division. Now that Brody is an Abilene Idol Junior Champ, he can no longer tryout for the Junior Division. He plans to try out for the Adult Division as soon as he is old enough.
Auditions for the competition are at the Mall of Abilene. Finalists are chosen to perform in the finale at the Abilene Convention Center. Brody said the auditions and the finals are two very different experiences.
“It’s a lot harder to sing at the mall than on stage,” Brody said. “You have people walking in front of you or someone yelling randomly while you are trying to sing. It was interesting.”
Brody sang “Proud of Your Boy,” a song that he had sung previously in a Wylie musical.
“A couple of years ago, Mrs. Z did Aladdin. I played Aladdin, and that was his solo,” Brody said. “I loved it since I sang it then, and I wanted to sing it again. It definitely showed off different aspects of my voice.”
Brody said singing in a competition like Abilene Idol is much different than performing in a musical.
“It’s a lot more pressure than when you are in a production,” he said. “When you are auditioning you want to get in, so you have to make sure it is perfect. In the finals, everyone is trying to win, so you have to make sure you do great.”
He said he got very nervous when he performed back in fourth grade, but he has learned to control the nerves more now.
“I still do get a little nervous every time,” he said. “It’s mainly before you start singing — whenever you are walking on stage. The singing wasn’t that scary, but the judges have to talk to you at the end. That was the scariest part for me.”
Brody said his goal is to one day perform on Broadway. That has been his goal since he realized that he is pretty good at musical theater. Winning Abilene Idol and the cheers of the crowd only confirm that this is the dream he should chase.
“It’s OK if you think your good, but applause means everyone else liked it too,” he said. “I felt like they definitely liked it. That was the best part. It feels great because this is what I am good at. When they applaud, to hear that, it means this is what I need to do.”