A Northeast Tennessee woman is hoping the public will prove a powerful voice in deciding the outcome of an online music competition.
Unicoi resident Teresa Masters is a contestant in “The Most Powerful Voices” contest, a nationwide competition being sponsored by the Gospel Music Channel, Light Records and The American Heart Association.
Masters has advanced to the Top 100 artists. Her next challenge is to receive enough votes to move into the Top 40. She said the contest is based on popularity; votes are the driving force.
Masters submitted a song she wrote titled “I Got Mercy” in the gospel/traditional category.
Masters said she wrote “I Got Mercy” in 2001.
The inspiration for writing this song stemmed from the death of her 20-year-old son, Joseph Rice Jr.; another personal tragedy motivated her to begin writing songs.
“My daughter, Laurie Rice, was killed in a car accident Sept. 9, 1995,” Masters said. “She was 21.”
Five years later, she suffered another devastating blow with the death of her son, who died April 17, 2000, of an overdose at age 20.
“I wasn’t prepared for the loss of my son,” she said.
“I never got bitter toward God,” Masters said. “I’m a firm believer we are indispensible until God calls us home, no matter what the circumstances. We have our own free will. We can either learn with His help to cope or be destroyed. We can’t bring back our loved ones, but God has made a way to reunite.”
At that low point in her life, she admitted feeling confusion.
“I retreated to the place that made me happy, and that was gospel music,” Masters said. “Today, I’m sane and alive and thankful!”
Her recovery from these losses began with writing down her thoughts in songs.
“Believe me, I had a lot to say! It was like the songs were being pulled out of the air and along with the words came the melody.”
She has written more than 20 songs over the years.
“I’m very fortunate to have many musician friends who helped me put together soundtracks for 14 of my songs to perform at my choosing,” she said. “There are still more in the waiting.”
She was singing long before she began writing songs.
“I was born singing,” Masters said. “I don’t recall a time in my life that I didn’t sing. As a little girl, I entertained my family constantly.”
Singing remains a central part of her life.
“Singing takes me to such a happy place, where I can forget all my troubles and just embrace His sweet love,” Masters said.
Masters, one of nine siblings, used to go caroling every Christmas with other family members.
“I loved entertaining, and making two or three dollars a night was icing on the cake, not to mention candy money.”
As she grew older, Masters began to develop a passion for gospel music over any other kind of music.
“I like them all, but gospel stands alone, way up there,” she said.
Family life put music on the back burner for a period of time, but she remained enthusiastic about music.
“I volunteered at church and different areas in our community,” Masters said. “With God’s help, I taught myself to read music and play piano.”
She used these talent for years in her local church, but the desire to sing always remained with her.
“Music and the mercy of God saved my life,” Masters said.
“Things could be different,” she added. “I could be lost and miserable. With the exception of my losses, God has blessed me beyond measure. I have a wonderful life and God is the reason.”
She and her husband, Larry, live in Unicoi. “He’s another wonderful blessing,” Masters said of her husband.
Masters said she was saved on Labor Day in 1979.
“I have never failed to go to church on Sunday unless sick or on vacation,” she added.
She welcomes support from throughout the region in her quest to be recognized as one of America’s “Powerful Voices.”
She said the artists involved in the contest are advanced currently by the number of votes they receive.
To vote for her, visit www.watchgmctv.com/music and register as a voter in the competition.
Once registered at the site, click on “Artist” and then click “T” for “Teresa.” Masters welcomes everyone to listen to the song and vote daily.
This round of competition to establish 40 finalists ends Monday, March 25.
After the Top 40 finalists are announced, one more round of voting will be held to establish the Top 10 contestants.
“The top 10 are judged according by their talent,” Masters said.
Masters said those Top 10 finalists will be looked at by promoters and publishers. “Getting to the Top 10 could open many doors,” Masters added.
The winner of “The Most Powerful Voices” contest will be announced Monday, May 20.