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Murray fans rally votes in ‘Idol’ effort

When it comes time to vote for “American Idol” performers, it’sfair to say Mississippi School of the Arts junior Jasmine Murrayhas a good bit of North America covered.

There are fan clubs for Murray all over the Internet, includingon the popular networking sites MySpace and Facebook.

Mitchell Danser, of Alberta, Canada, started a Facebook groupfor the Mississippi teen dedicated to her “American Idol”journey.

“It’s amazing to see what a huge group of people are alreadywanting to see her win from so far away and from so spread out,” hesaid. “It’s definitely a mind-blower.”

Murray will be one of 12 contestants singing on tonight’s showin hopes of advancing to this season’s Top 12. For two hoursfollowing the 7-9 p.m. broadcast on Fox 40, fans will be able tocall in or text votes for their favorite contestant.

Though he has never met Murray in person, Danser said justwatching her sing was enough to win his fanhood.

“I just loved watching her sing,” he said. “She showed suchpotential and I just had to make her a group.”

Denetrice Barnes of Cordova, Tenn., who runs the Jasmine MurrayFan Club at http://jasminemurrayfanclub.ning.com/, actually doesknow the teen. Murray is Barnes’ cousin’s sister-in-law, and shesaid they have been acquainted for more than 10 years.

“Jasmine has always been a sweet, yet outstanding young lady.She has an amazing personality that has touched so many people thatshe’s come in contact with,” Barnes said. “She is very talented andworthy of the title of the next ‘American Idol.'”

And for a rising star of Murray’s caliber, a fan site is justwhat Barnes thought she needed to make it official.

“After I found out that Jasmine had auditioned and made it tothe top 50 on ‘American Idol,’ I knew of her potential and that shecould go far in this competition, which she has,” Barnes said. “Afan club was just what she needed to get the word out to gainsupport for Jasmine as she experiences this amazing journey in herlife.”

The fans on the sites hail from as far away as Canada,California, Ohio, New York, Oklahoma and New Jersey, as well asbeing from the southern states.

Adrian Wilson is a professor of mathematics at the University ofMontevallo in Alabama. He said he has several reasons for being apart of one of the Facebook fan clubs.

“My main reason for pulling for Jasmine Murray is she is thesister of a good friend,” he said. “As I am an alumnus of theMississippi School for Mathematics and Science, the academiccounterpart for the school of arts in Brookhaven, I think her beingshowcased like this is a great opportunity for the rest of thecountry to see the level of achievement coming out of ourstate.”

Columbus band teacher Kelli Wingert Wallace said Murray hasalways been a standout.

“I taught Jasmine in band. She was an excellent student,” shesaid. “I have no idea who her closest competition would even be. Ifadults vote more than teens, I would guess it might be one of theolder contestants with a sob story.”

Ole Miss sophomore Ashley Forester said she likes Murray’s”fresh look.”

“I am very impressed that a 16-year-old has so much passion anddetermination, which is needed in today’s teens,” she said. “Ithink that she will be a positive role model for younger andsame-age fans.”

So the move is on to rally the vote, Jasmine fans said. As thenext vote comes around, people are being made aware that they needto be heard by the rest of the country.

“It is extremely important for everyone in our group to vote aswell as to let their friends know to vote also,” Barnes said. “Itis also important for them to know that voting is unlimited. Theycan vote as many times as they like from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. afterthe show on Wednesday. I am sending out e-mail blasts to everyonein the group to remind them to watch and vote.”

Meanwhile, the move to rally voters is not just under way on theInternet, but also in Brookhaven. MSA Principal Jana Perry saidfaculty and students at MSA are trying to stir the waters aswell.

“We’ve sent e-mails to the Mississippi Department of Education,and I’ve sent a ton of personal e-mails,” she said. “I’ve sent themto everyone on my list. And the kids are surely spreading the wordas well.”

And Murray’s MSA host family has been rallying the vote locallyfor weeks in Brookhaven.

“If you have AT&T phones you can text as many times as youwould like …. I am going to text until my fingers can’t take it… lol,” said Murray’s sister Andrea Murray McMillan in a messagesent out host mother Jennifer Jackson.

But whether Jasmine Murray moves on or not, her fans said she’sthe real deal. Even if she doesn’t win, her admirers think she cango all the way.

“I fully believe that she could be the next ‘American Idol,'”Forester said. “She has the motivation, youthfulness, stagepresence and an amazing voice. She is the whole package.”

Wilson said while Murray’s family isn’t allowed to say much dueto ‘American Idol’ rules, he knows they’re proud of her.

“I think with her being such a young woman and as talented asshe is, she has the opportunity to have a long-lasting music careereven if her path doesn’t include winning this competition,” hesaid. “I know the family is so proud of her.”