Ballinger native and resident Jessica Cason made history last week after being named as one of the top eight contenders to sing the National Anthem at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.

Ballinger native and resident Jessica Cason made history last week after being named as one of the top eight contenders to sing the National Anthem at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.

Cason was one of about 140 contestants who submitted YouTube videos of themselves singing “The Star Spangled Banner” to the annual contest. And much to Cason’s surprise, she made it into the final round. She saw her name listed online as one of only eight finalists.

“I could not believe it,” Cason said. “It was such an honor.”

The final round depended on the number of online votes that were made for her. Alas, Cason found out Friday, Oct. 6, that she would not be one of final two selected, but she said she was honored to have been among the finalists. Two Oklahomans, Doug Wade and Chelsea Gann were announced as the 2017 winners.

No matter what, Cason said she is proud of the fact that she advanced as far as she did, especially being from a small town in Texas.

“There is no reason to feel defeated - we all know and love our small town,” Cason said. “All of the support that came out of Runnels County was phenomenal.”

Cason, a 2000 graduate of Ballinger High School, has been singing all of her life in church and in school choirs, church, pageants and just about anywhere she could.

An ankle injury would take her out of sports and she would then devote all of her time to music.

“I was going to school in Gatesville while my dad was serving in Fort Hood and that is where I started training,” Cason said.

When her father retired from the military, the family moved back to Ballinger and she would come under the tutelage of music directors Dale and Ida Lee Ellis during a her junior and senior years. She won numerous UIL competitions and would eventually earn a music scholarship to Angelo State University.

"Jessica was a whole-hearted participant in the Ballinger High School Vocal Music Program,” Dale Ellis said. “She excelled in UIL Vocal Solo competition and sang for many local events. We certainly wish her well in the competition."

Cason would be the first student from Ballinger to audition and win the FAME Scholarship for music majors. From there, she would take collegiate level courses.

“That enhanced my music development, muscle control and tonality - it was awesome training,” she said.

She would ultimately make the decision to get her degree in business, but music remains her love and avocation. She has performed the National Anthem numerous times for local sporting events in and around Ballinger and for semi-professional baseball and hockey teams in San Angelo.

"I used to sing at the Colts games, back when the Saints were here,” she said. “I always wanted to do it on a bigger scale and so when I saw, this contest I had to enter. “I'm a big NFR follower, when I saw the email saying here's this contest I said 'Hey I can do that'."

Cason and her husband Wacie both work on base at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo. Her husband is the Asset Management Chief and she works for Tricare Operations. The couple have a new baby girl, who is five months old name Canady and a son, Coy who is 4.

Cason said she will try again, and stay tuned she will likely be singing around the area.

“The amount of support that people showed touched me to my core and it was humbling,” Cason said.