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October 15, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Meet the Patriots: UT Tyler Alumnus Reflects on ‘Idol’ Moment

Editor’s Note: The University of Texas at Tyler prides itself on its remarkable ensemble of undergraduates, graduates and alumni. In this 2008-09 feature series, “Meet the Patriots,” we will focus on some of those individuals.

Bailey singing during 2007 Patriot Idol

Tracy Bailey sings on stage at the 2007 Patriot Idol competition.

Tracy Bailey of Tyler has been singing since he could learn how to speak.
Coming from a musically-inclined family, one would think The University of Texas at Tyler 2007 graduate and church lead musician would have no problem singing on a stage. But not so for this talented alumnus.  

When friends asked him last year to participate in the university’s spin-off singing competition of the popular FOX television show American Idol called Patriot Idol, he reluctantly gave in to his friends’ pleas. And when he won first place singing Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky,” he couldn’t believe it.

“I hate to be in the spotlight. I just don’t like singing in public because I get so anxious and nervous,” said Bailey, who also is a member of the
Sigma Alpha Epsilon-Texaszeta Greek organization. “But when I saw my sister, my Greek brothers and all my UT Tyler friends in the audience, I was relaxed. Just to see those faces, it played a big part in my performance. A big support system is always important.”

And Bailey has not only support on his side, but a natural knack for music too.

“Both sides of my family are involved in music,” Bailey said. “My dad’s side does pretty much everything that deals with music. I get most of the talent from my dad. The music reading skills come more from my mom.”

Picking up the trumpet first while a sixth-grader, he later taught himself how to play other instruments. The vocal aspect of the picture didn’t come until later, Bailey explained.

“Everybody in the family expected me to go the choral direction and not the instrumental direction, but I had to do something with my hands because with singing you just sort of stand there,” Bailey said with a laugh.

While a student at Tyler Junior College, Bailey took some vocal lessons “just for fun.”

“My voice instructor asked me, ‘Why haven’t you been in choir?’ I told her I just didn’t really enjoy singing as much as I enjoyed playing an instrument. She asked me about joining UT Tyler Patriot Singers.”

Her persistence paid off. Bailey made the cut, was offered a vocal scholarship and arrived at UT Tyler in the 2005 fall semester.

“My music abilities are what got me through school,” added Bailey, who was a member of TJC’s Apache Marching Band and UT Tyler’s Wind Ensemble. A former music major, Bailey eventually majored in psychology to focus on counseling and pursue forensic psychology.

“I don’t know why I’m so scared to perform. It’s like you have a talent, and you’re so nervous and scared to use it. I don’t know why – as a psychology major I still can’t figure out the problem,” he said with a laugh.

Bailey, as last year’s champ, came back to perform a song with a fellow fraternity brother to entertain the 2008 Patriot Idol crowd. 

“Winning the competition was amazing,” he added. “They really set it up like a million-dollar production. I was asked to come back and sing again and of course I was reluctant at first! But I enjoyed it.”

Bailey can be seen at the university occasionally, whether hanging out with his Greek brothers or at the UT Tyler Herrington Patriot Center on the racquetball court. Aside from singing and music, his other interests include cooking, road trips, movies and sports.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. Nearly 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

Meet the Patriots Feature Series:


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