SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. (KTVI) - Paula Martin remembers the day American Idol contestant Curtis Finch Jr. walked into her classroom.
'He started singing and immediately I was just like, 'We need to talk because he needed to be at an audition level class from 9th grade on,' says
Paula Martin the Oakville Director of Choirs. 'So he's a very gifted singer and always has been.'
Martin had a hand in teaching the young singer when he attended Oakville High School.
She's been keeping an eye on his performance on American Idol.
'I try to just sit back and enjoy,' says Martin. 'Um, he's pretty much the same kid that he was in high school. To me he will always be 16.'
For the past 20 years, Martin has been molding musicians at Oakville and earning accolades along the way.
'I've been watching her direct choirs since I was a sixth grader and I was ten and 11 and I just knew it was something I always wanted to do,' says Makayla Brady an Oakville Senior.
As for Finch, Martin has some simple advice for her former student.
'He's a natural performer so if he just lets his heart shine through he'll do really well,' says Martin.
Martin and her students hope to do really well this weekend when they compete in regional ensemble and solo singing competitions.
Regardless of whether they win, lose or draw, she hopes to pass along a few pointers to her performers.
'Confidence, faith in themselves and to be lifelong consumers of music and enjoy singing...cause it's something you can do your whole life,' says Martin. 'I hope it stays with them forever.'
Not bad advice for a choir director that might hold the major and minor keys to success on American idol and in life in general.