Mike Patterson. photo provided
Mike Patterson. photo provided

Sisters Americana Project standout Mike Patterson has won first place in the Rising Star competition staged earlier this month at the Tower Theater in Bend.

High school juniors and seniors throughout Central Oregon were invited to audition for a spot on the Bella Acappella Harmony 4 Women fall show. The top four finalists, voted on by the audience, received cash prizes to help them pursue their musical ambitions. Bella Acappella Harmony is an educational non-profit organization, the parent chorus of Harmony 4 Women.

The competitors played for two sold-out shows at the Tower.

Patterson performs solo with a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. His selection for the competition was his original song "Caroline."

"I wrote it for my grandma," he explained.

When Patterson was younger, he had a dream where his grandmother visited him and told him she was going away. The next morning Mike's father received a phone call telling him she had died. The song recounts the dream experience and his relationship with his grandmother.

Patterson is a seasoned performer, which may have given him an edge in the competition.

"I kind of used everything I'd learned over the years about performing to benefit me and have good stage presence," he said.

Patterson said his early experience playing classical violin at age 10 gave him confidence performing in front of people, and he developed that confidence and presence through his participation in the Americana Project, the Sisters Folk Festival's music education outreach program in the schools.

"Americana gave me a chance to perform," he said. "Brad Tisdel (SFF creative director) helped a lot with that."

Patterson's music is much more than a hobby. He may go to Greece after graduation to pursue music and modeling if he doesn't take a position tutoring English in China.

"My real passion is music," he said. "Everything else is second to that."

He says he seeks to "live a life worth singing about."