Yolanda Briggs grew up singing gospel music in church in New Jersey.
Briggs, now 50 and living in Apex, studies business administration at Wake Tech Community College, but she never gave up on singing.
“When you love it, you stay on top of it,” Briggs said. “It’s a passion. Of course, education is on top of the list.”
Briggs wants to combine her passions for business and music by starting her own record company – and she now has an accolade to add to her resume: She won the first Wake Tech Idol competition last month.
The singing competition featured 12 finalists and three local celebrity judges and drew more than 250 audience members.
The Fine Arts Department is new at Wake Tech, and school leaders wanted to jump in on the popularity of singing competitions.
The department and students helped sell tickets and promote the event.
“Our… department provides students an opportunity to continue the skills that they need,” said Dina Law, who leads the Fine Arts Department.
As the winner, Briggs walked away with a $1,000 annual scholarship. She sang “I Am Changing” by Jennifer Hudson and “I Love The Lord” by Whitney Houston.
Wake Tech plans to make the competition an annual event and continue the scholarship, Law said.
Meanwhile, Briggs has bigger dreams.
Her father and her pastor urged her to pursue singing years ago. Her sister, Sonja Mcghee, also a Wake Tech student, heard about the competition and convinced her to audition.
Briggs practiced ahead of time, often singing around the house she shares with her sister and three nieces and nephews.
She said she didn’t expect to win; she just wanted to have fun. Besides, she had a lot on her plate: in addition to being a full-time student, Briggs is a member of the Wake Tech Inspirational Choir and sings at the United Holy Church of Christ in Holly Springs.
Briggs hopes to start a record company that would focus on gospel music, but she’s open to other genres.
She said she likes the idea of being a CEO and running her own business, as well as having other singers on her label.
“Human beings can just relate to music – all nationalities, all cultures,” Briggs said.