Local Maryland Senior Idol Contest winner to represent Washington Co. in Bowie, Md.
Bill Divelbiss, left, and Jerry Mullenix are headed to the Senior Idol State competition in Baltimore this April. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / March 27, 2013)
He built it himself because he loves ’50s and ’60s music, and he plans to entertain friends there someday.
There’s just one problem.
He is shy. So shy that, at 61 years old, the Hagerstown resident said he hasn’t really ever sung for anyone other than himself.
“I always wanted to be on stage since I was a squirt kid, but I’m scared to death to be on a real one. So I made my own,” he said.
On Wednesday, Mullenix and William “Bill” Divelbiss will represent Washington County at the seventh annual Maryland Senior Idol contest at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Md.
Mullenix defied his fear on a Saturday in late January, stepping on stage in a Hawaiian shirt and a lei in front of an audience of more than 200 at the local Maryland Senior Idol Contest sponsored by the Washington County Commission on Aging at Bridge of Life church.
“It’s a good thing my pants were loose so people couldn’t see my knees shaking. I was just scared to death,” he said. “It was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Mullenix told the crowd it was his first time singing publicly.
“I hope I can do a good job for you,” he said.
Before he had delivered a full line of the 1961 pop ballad “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the audience began expressing unmistakable approval for his deep, smooth delivery with screams and cheers of applause. And before the contest was over, the rookie singer had placed first of 13 contestants and earned the idol title.
A whole different ballgame
Mullenix, who has been employed for 22 years by ABC Supply Co., a wholesale building material company, said as a boy, he dreamed of becoming a disc jockey. One of seven children, he would sit spinning 45s on a record player.
“I’ve been singing all of my life, just never for anybody,” Mullenix said. “I’d go out in the woods and sing.”
The father of two and grandfather of one said his favorite songs to sing are “Mushy, mushy, mushy.”
It was through the work of his wife, Judy Mullenix, that Jerry began to sing in front of people about a year ago. As an activities director at Homewood at Williamsport, she was looking for volunteers for karaoke. Mullenix said he would “drift in from time to time.”
One time, Washington County Senior Idol 2010 Jack Myers heard Mullenix sing and told him he should sign up for the Senior Idol contest. Mullenix had done stand-up comedy and had performed magic shows on weekends for 20 years. But singing was a whole different ballgame, he said.
“I’ve been on stage doing 20-minute magic shows in front of 1,400 people. A nail sticking up could have put me on my butt. But I wasn’t nearly as nervous then,” Mullenix said. “Magic, I knew I could do. Singing, I didn’t.”
With the success of the local contest under his belt, Mullenix said he’ll be more confident in Bowie.