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Wadsworth singer searches for her star on ‘Windy City Live’

Abbey McCormick Wadsworth is finalist Windy City LIVE's Search for Star singing competitiABC 7 Chicago. | Special Sun-Times Media

Abbey McCormick of Wadsworth is a finalist in the Windy City LIVE's Search for a Star singing competition on ABC 7 in Chicago. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 1, 2013 2:06AM

WADSWORTH — If you ask Abbey McCormack when she knew she wanted to sing in public, she’ll tell you a story about how she was discovered by chance singing in private.

“I found out I could sing in seventh grade,” the Wadsworth resident recalled. “It was after volleyball practice, and I was singing in the locker room (when) the choir director walked by and heard me. ... When I walked out, she said, ‘You’re going to audition tomorrow for the play,’ and I said, ‘I am?’”

From there, she said, there has been a mix of success and setbacks that include auditions for “American Idol” and “The Voice,” steps along a path that led her to a slot as one of 12 finalists on “Search for a Star” competition sponsored by “Windy City Live” — the winner of which will go home next month with a new car.

Any pressure she might feel, she added, pales in comparison to the challenges she faced after being struck by a car last October in a roadside accident near Park City.

“I honestly shouldn’t be alive,” said McCormack, describing injuries that included head trauma, broken ribs and broken feet. “(But) something happened to me that day — I realized that life was short. I mean, I already knew that, but (the accident) knocked the fear out of me. I thought, ‘If I could handle that, I can handle anything.’”

When it comes to the competition on WLS-TV’s “Windy City Live,” McCormack first had to survive an open audition that drew a reported 800 applicants earlier this month.

“We got tons of people to come out,” said Jayme Nicholas, manager of press and publicity for WLS-TV, “and then we got it down to 300 people, and then from 300 people down to 12.”

Nicholas added that the contest will proceed with six “battle rounds,” with two singers performing each day starting Friday and running next week through Feb. 8. At the end of each episode, viewers will be able to vote online for their preferred singer, and the three winners from each round will stage a final performance on Feb. 21. The winner of that day’s online voting is scheduled to be announced on Feb. 22.

McCormack is a Detroit native who moved to Lake County three years ago when her husband, Michael, joined Naval Station Great Lakes as a drill instructor.

With her battle round scheduled for Feb. 7, she said she plans to sing Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and dedicate it to Michael McCormack and other military families, saying “he’s gone 16 hours a day, seven days a week for two months at a time. ... I get up with him at 4 (a.m.) and pack his food for the day, and then he comes home at 10 o’clock dead tired and does it all again six hours later. That’s how I feel when he’s away — there’s no sunshine.”

If she wins the grand prize, a 2014 Mazda 6 sedan, McCormack said she knows exactly what she will do: “I’m going to give it to my husband for taking care of me.”

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