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Local siblings to audition for American Idol

By Staff
Blanch, Warren will try out in Atlanta
By KEVIN SCOTT CUTLER, Lifestyles Editor
While Belhaven gave the world the talented “Little Eva” Boyd, who took “The Locomotion” to the number one spot in 1962, another Beaufort County community just may produce the next musical phenomenon.
Siblings Ferando Warren and Candy Blanch, both of Washington, will temporarily leave their jobs at Southern Cheers in a couple weeks to take a shot at stardom. They’ll be among the hundreds — better make that thousands — of hopefuls auditioning for the chance to perform and compete in season 7 of American Idol.
Both Warren and Blanch already have a leg up on most of the competition. They’re talented.
Blanch, 27, got her start on stage at age 11 when she began entering beauty contests like the Pamlico Princess and Sunburst pageants.
She named Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and “Power of Love” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing” as among the songs she enjoys performing, but she doesn’t limit herself to those selections.
Blanch polishes her skills during Southern Cheers’ Thursday evening karaoke sessions, joining her brother on stage along with others who fancy the limelight. But she acknowledged she was hesitant in the beginning.
Warren, 26, also started singing at a young age, but he didn’t go the beauty pageant route.
Warren and Blanch sang together as youngsters in the old 9th Street Church of God in Washington, now Cornerstone Family Worship Center.
Unlike his sister, Warren’s musical tastes are a bit edgier. For example, he named ZZ Top’s “Blue Jean Blues” as one of his favorite songs. He said he’s also partial to B.B. King’s “Don’t Answer the Door” and Buddy Guy’s “First Time I Met the Blues.”
Warren has formed his own band L.T.C. — which stands for Long Time Coming — and he is developing quite a fan base at Southern Cheers, where he also performs on karaoke night. He is no stranger to competition, having made it to the second round of Carolina Idol, a regional American Idol-type talent search sponsored by a Greenville radio station. He has performed in New York during a community event held in Brooklyn, and he’s appeared at the House of Blues in Chicago.
Both named their parents — Mary Henderson and James Warren — as musical influences. And as Washington natives they have their own support network, including coworkers and customers at Southern Cheers. Among their youngest fans are Warren’s four-month-old daughter Nyasia, and Blanch’s children — Isaiah, MarChina and Joel.
One of their biggest supporters, the siblings say, is their employer Cindi Smith, who owns Southern Cheers. Warren is kitchen manager/general manager, and Blanch is considered a “Jill of all trades” at the restaurant.
Smith said she is putting together a couple of fundraising ideas to help finance the trip. She also wants to host a send-off party so their fans can wish them well before they leave for the auditions.
Both Warren and Blanch admit to a case of nerves, but they say they are ready to tackle the Idol audition process. They plan to leave Washington Aug. 11 and fly to Atlanta, where auditions will be held in the Georgia Dome as part of a national search for contestants.
The siblings are approaching the auditions in different ways, however. Blanch is pretty sure she’ll sing Etta James’ “At Last” and she said she plans to wear “jeans and a pretty shirt” for her moment in the spotlight. Warren, however, hasn’t decided on a song — he’s leaning towards Sam Cooke’s “You Were Made for Me” — and as for wardrobe, well, he said he intends to pack for the trip and just wear “whatever I pull out of the bag.”
While they are supportive of each other, Warren and Blanch couldn’t resist a bit of teasing so typical of siblings.