In many ways, Shi'Ann Jones acts like a typical 12-year-old. She skates, rides her bike and bickers with her younger brother, 10-year-old Ricky Jones Jr.
But when she stands up to sing, Jones undergoes a transformation. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and belts out in a throaty voice that could belong to a grown woman. She sings as if she's the only person in the room - just like her father, Pastor Ricky Jones, always urges her to do.
"(People) can feel the chills, they can feel the power that's coming through her. It's not something that you can just teach. It's something that comes from totally above," said dad, who doubles as his daughter's vocal coach.
He said his daughter's music lessons started before she was born. Jones - a singer in his own right - sang to her when her mother Marilyn Jones was pregnant. By the age of 2, Shi'Ann was trying to sing along, and once she turned 3, the family knew they should pursue her talent.
Jones first took the stage at the age of 7 in Clark Elementary School's "Clark's Got Talent." Since then, she's sung the National Anthem at the start of games at Paducah Tilghman High School and Paducah Middle School, where she's a sixth-grader. She's also garnered praise for a performance at the Lions Club/WPSD Telethon of Stars, her father said.
Jones is soft-spoken in public, and says she's much more comfortable when she's singing, even in front of large crowds.
"Sometimes I get nervous, but I shake it off and focus," she said. "(Singing) comforts me."
Jones has performed songs by stars such as Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys, but she also writes her own music. She starts with the lyrics and adds the music later, picking out the notes on the piano.
Jones and her father also devote their time to studying famous performers. They watch videos of singers such as Aretha Franklin, Beyonce and Justin Bieber, analyzing how they perform, and research the singers' backgrounds.
"A lot of these singers, they've got to go through something to get to where they are," Ricky Jones said. "They had it rough."
For Shi'Ann Jones, the big challenges are dealing with some of the pressure that comes with practicing and performing. Her gifts set her apart, and she admits it sometimes bothers her that she has few friends.
"There are some things she might not get a chance to do like everybody else. ... It's not easy being 12 years old and having to practice every day. She's supposed to be at Six Flags or something like that, having fun," her father said.
But like the singers she admires, Shi'Ann Jones has big dreams and is willing to make sacrifices for them.
"I'd like to show (my talent) to the whole world," she said.
That's what she and her parents are trying to accomplish this summer at the Carson Center. Jones has a concert of original music booked in the Myre River Room, but they want to go bigger and book the main stage. To that end, Shi'Ann's parents are seeking financial backing to rent the space, which will cost $6,782.10 with light and sound.
For now, the concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, in the Myre River Room, 100 Kentucky Ave. Pre-ordered tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth under 17. They may be purchased by contacting Marilyn Jones at 270-709-5488 or Ricky Jones at 270-366-3059.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.
Want to go?
What:"An Intimate Evening with Shi'Ann Jones."
When:7 p.m. Saturday, July 26.
Where:The Myre River Room at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, 100 Kentucky Ave.
Pre-ordered tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth under 17. They may be purchased by contacting Marilyn Jones at 270-709-5488 or Ricky Jones at 270-366-3059.
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