It’s a simple line from Carrie Underwood’s hit song “Champion” which goes, “Been waiting my whole life to see my name in lights.” Lyrics which Oakdale High School junior Isaac Einhell can not only relate to, but was able to live out on the evening of Tuesday, May 14, as well as for several days which followed.
The venue where it all began, Golden One Center, Sacramento. The event, center stage with Carrie Underwood as she performed before 36,000 people for her 2019 Cry Pretty Tour 360. Isaac was treated to the center stage position as the winner of The Champion Rap Contest. The contest required entrants to submit a video of themselves performing the rap portion of the hit song, as well as an essay about their ‘champion.’
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of hers,” Isaac said of the unique opportunity to share the stage with the singer.
The teen shared he first learned of the contest when he saw a post on Instagram. The idea of submitting at first didn’t appeal to him. One night, though, unable to sleep, he began writing about his ‘champion,’ his mother.
“My parents were divorced when I was four, so for a while it was just me and my mom,” Isaac said. “Since then we’ve had a special connection. That essay was a lot about past events and how it’s all led up to her being my champion.”
His mother, Stephanie Blakeley knew nothing of the contest submission, Isaac said until he hit “submit.”
She shared her son took to the country artist as young as three years old, learning and singing all of her songs.
“He loves everything Carrie,” Stephanie said. “This is such an amazing opportunity for him.”
While the video submission gained the most attention the day of the concert, it was his essay which left a bigger impression on his mom.
The morning of the concert – just a couple of days after Mother’s Day – Stephanie shared the emotion she felt to not only see her son live out a dream, but also how touched she was by her son’s essay.
An excerpt from his essay reads, “The Champion perfectly depicts the perspective and determination that my mom has inside her to overcome any struggles and obstacles in life and that through anything she is invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable and unshakeable.”
He also noted later in the essay: “The Champion is an amazing song with a phenomenal message, and in my mind there is no better person to pick as my Champion than my mom.”
Words which came to him in the middle of the night, about a woman who’d given him so much, led him to share the stage with his idol.
“It all just came out so easily,” he said of the essay.
The essay isn’t the only thing which seemed to come “easily” to the OHS student, though. Videos which went viral of Isaac performing last Tuesday with Underwood show no sign of nerves or apprehension for his unrehearsed performance.
As is customary with contest winners, Isaac learned of this win the day before he was to take the stage. Prior to being lifted up through the stage he shared nerves began to set in, fear that he’d forget the words to the song which landed him the opportunity.
“Once Carrie started the show and the crowd went crazy, I could feel the energy and the nerves went away,” he said. “I cannot remember actually saying the words, but I can remember looking into the crowd and looking into her face. That’s what I remember the most. She was looking at me like ‘bring it on.’ That encouraged me too.”
And bring it he did.
From the moment he rose onto the stage, the crowd was behind him with enthusiasm. A circumstance that some might find themselves dumbfounded in, Isaac ran with. As the student approached Underwood, rapping the lyrics, his performance skills were not only natural but flawless.
“I don’t know what I want to do out of high school,” he confided. “The only thing I’ve wanted to do is be in the entertainment industry.”
He’s now hopeful that the experience will help with the momentum to get him there.
Noted by several media forums as a “Modesto teen” and “viral sensation,” Isaac shared the post-event media attention was not only surprising but overwhelming.
“It’s more of a big deal than I imagined,” he said of his dream come true moment.
The Cry Pretty Tour 360 show, was Isaac’s fourth time seeing Underwood live and it won’t be his last. It will, however, most likely be the most memorable.
“The part that felt like a dream, was the part leading up to it,” he stated. “I could not comprehend that I was going to be this close to Carrie Underwood.
“My music library on my phone is only Carrie Underwood,” he continued, “so it was incomprehensible to think I was going to be on the stage, on Carrie’s biggest tour yet and I was going to be right next to her.”
He made the most of the opportunity.
“I did not want to let go,” he said of the hug and the end of the performance. “I felt really special.”