Putting her guitar and voice to pitch-perfect use, Rianna Rosecrans took home first place in Friday’s finals of The STAR talent competition at the Patricia Lindley Center.
That performance earned the Wellington High School junior $500 and marked the first time she played guitar in front of a crowd after only beginning to teach herself the instrument a year ago.
“I was definitely surprised to win,” said Rosecrans. “I thought it was going to be between Rebecca Arcuri and Jacob Fleming. Pulling out my guitar for the first time ever helped a lot and I think it gave me a little bit of an edge.”
“Teaching myself guitar was all about going at my own pace,” she said. “I also had my uncle helping me along with it. Mainly, I’ve just been doing the base chords that need to be learned first. Then I’ve gone on to barre chords and tabs.”
She was joined in the finals by Arcuri, Fleming, Ezra Ohly, and Hailey Spikes with Ohly’s roller skating performance earning second place.
Rosecrans sang Adele’s “Remedy” and “I Will Rise,” a gospel hymn released by Chris Tomlin in 2008. The latter song was dedicated to Rosecrans’ cousin, Garrett Farr of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Farr took his own life on Sept. 22, less than two months before his 18th birthday.
Speaking to the crowd, Rosecrans described Farr’s death as “losing his battle with depression.”
“At Garrett’s funeral, ‘I Will Rise’ was actually one of the songs that was played,” she said. “It was the song that spoke to me the most because it basically says, ‘I will rise after my hardship and I will become a better person after everything that’s happened.”
According to recent surveys, more than a quarter of Lorain County High School students have reported feeling “sad and hopeless” and 15 percent have contemplated suicide.
“I’ve just said to myself, ‘Garrett is up in heaven now living a better life than he did down here,” Rosecrans said.
When asked what advice she’d offer others interested in learning an instrument, the 2017 STAR winner said to take it slow and think of it like workout.
“Just take your time with it and don’t get frustrated if you can’t pick it up at first,” Rosecrans said. “Your fingers are like every other muscle in your body and they need time to get muscle memory down.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.