While the Waterloo FFA won a national award at the recently concluded National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, a Valmeyer FFA student also represented her chapter well.
Cadence Shipes, a Valmeyer High School sophomore, was one of only 42 FFA members to compete at the national talent contest at the event.
“I think I did really well for what I was expecting to do,” the 15-year-old said.
Shipes, who sings and plays the ukulele, has been involved in both those pursuits since a young age.
“I’ve always kind of sang ever since I was really, really young, and my mom always encouraged it,” she said. “I’ve worked on my voice since then.”
Shipes taught herself to play the ukulele using online resources beginning when she was in sixth grade, after being inspired to pick up the instrument by Tyler Joseph, a member of musical duo Twenty One Pilots.
As she practiced and improved, Shipes began uploading her covers of popular songs to YouTube and Instagram and performing locally.
She credited her mother with helping her to continue her passion.
“She would encourage me to sing at like my friend’s graduation party,” Shipes said.
When she joined FFA her freshman, Shipes learned her musical abilities could be used in that organization.
She found out that in her second semester she could participate in the state talent show, which functions as a showcase for Illinois FFA students.
Her application to perform at the state level was approved, and Shipes got the opportunity to perform in front of approximately 5,000 people.
That was by far the biggest crowd she had performed for.
“I was so scared, and I’m not typically the type of person to get scared when I perform, but that was crazy,” Shipes remembered.
After receiving encouragement from state FFA officers and longtime Valmeyer FFA advisor Howard Heavner, Shipes walked onstage.
She could only see the first three rows of people, but could tell thousands more had their eyes on her.
“I was super, super scared and my voice was kind of shaky at first,” Shipes recalled. “But then after that I got really comfortable and started singing and getting it.”
She performed well enough that Shipes got a rapturous round of applause and encouragement to compete at the national level.
She decided to do that, completing an application that included basic information and a short talent showcase video.
Soon, Shipes learned she was selected from the hundreds of applicants to compete.
“I was like ‘oh my gosh this is so exciting,’” Shipes said. “I just went nuts.”
She quickly started practicing a list of songs that included “Your Song” by Taylor Swift, “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman” and “Sorry” by Halsey.
At the national event, it is a competition, with students first completing preliminary rounds before moving on to semi-finals and finals.
Shipes only performed in the preliminary round before she was eliminated from the contest, which meant she did not perform on the main stage.
“I was really bummed,” she noted.
But she still got to sing on the talent stage at the convention, at the Indianapolis Artsgarden and at a luncheon.
“Even though I didn’t get that far in the competition, I was still really happy with the outcome because I still got to perform and make new friends” Shipes said, noting she was not as nervous this time.
Shipes enjoyed the experience enough that she plans to compete at both the state and national level next year, all with the goal of becoming a professional entertainer.
“I’m out here just chasing my dream of being a singer and musician, as much as I can for only being 15,” she said.
To stay updated on Shipes’ career and to see videos of her covering songs, follow her at ageof93 on Instagram.