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MSA grad up for two K-Love Fan Awards — Former Idol, Miss Mississippi competes for best female artist, breakout single

Jasmine Murray has been a little busy since graduating from the Mississippi School of the Arts.

She was on season 8 of “American Idol” before she even earned her diploma, then later she won Miss Mississippi and even competed in the Miss America pageant. Last year she sang on the K-Love Fan Awards; this year she’s competing for Female Artist of the Year and Breakout Single for “Fearless.”

Voting online will continue through the awards, which will be held in Nashville May 27. The show will be broadcast on TBN May 31 at 7 p.m.

Fans can vote once per valid email address at klovefanawards.com/vote.

Murray, 26, is up against some big name competition for female artist — Kim Walker-Smith, Lauren Daigle, Mandisa, Natalie Grant and Plumb.

Her competition for Breakout Single includes Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love,” Micah Tyler’s “Different,” Tauren Wells’ “Hills & Valleys” and We Are Messengers’ “Point to You.”

Murray credits MSA for a lot of her success. She heard about the school from a friend when she was 15, then met recruiters when they visited her high school in Columbus.

“It just sounded awesome,” she said. “I decided to audition and I made it and it was amazing and spent two years at MSA and I loved every minute of it. It was fantastic.”

At MSA, she focused on classical music and theatre, but sang all genres.

“Music is such a beautiful language in and of itself. You have the ability to connect with people through song. I just think that’s incredible,” she said.

After her run on “American Idol,” she thought she’d go into pop music.

“A few years later though, the Lord revealed to me that he wanted me to be a Christian artist to sing for him and glorify him. I wanted to be obedient to him,” she said. “He has opened up so many doors and allowed me to do just that.”

One of those has been performing with other “Idol” alums, Danny Gokey and Mandisa. She toured with the Christian artists last year, opening the show then coming back at the end to sing “Bleed the Same” with Gokey and Mandisa.

Gokey is also up for K-Love awards.

“I’m super excited for Danny and super excited to be nominated myself. It’s very surprising but a huge honor,” she said. “I’m so grateful and so excited just to be on the list with so many incredible artists and songwriters and so many incredible people. It’s definitely a dream come true and something I’m super excited about.”

She’s a huge fan of her competition.

“These women are just so incredible and are such God-fearing women. Some of them are moms. They just do it all and they’ve dedicated their lives to the Lord,” she said. “It’s really, really awesome that the Lord has given us all the opportunities to sing for him and glorify him through music.”

She sang at the K-Love Fan Awards last year, performing with David Crowder, Tauren Wells and Sarah Reeves.

“I’m so excited to get a chance to go back this year and to be nominated, oh my gosh, what a blessing,” she said.

Murray is living in Nashville now, but looks back fondly on her days in Brookhaven — rushing across Monticello to get to Piggly Wiggly, going downtown to the coffee shop, watching movies at the Westbrook Cinema 4 and going to church at First Baptist. She said her days in Brookhaven were all part of life’s journey.

“I feel like the Lord has definitely blessed me in my lifetime to get to experience wonderful opportunities, like getting to go to MSA and study there, winning Miss Mississippi and competing at Miss America and ‘American Idol’ and all these amazing opportunities,” she said.

The extensive schedule and her studies at MSA prepared her for college and to be independent, she said. The course work challenged her and she feels the one-on-one instruction time with professors helped her immensely. Her classmates kept her focused.

“We all supported each other and all of us had similar goals and wanted to go into music,” she said. “In a lot of ways, it prepared me so much for what I’m doing now and helped me to realize this is what I wanted to do.”

She said MSA helps students become better artists.

“And to believe in ourselves and realize that there are no limits and to dream big,” she said. “I’m very appreciative for everything I learned at MSA, very thankful I had the opportunity to study there and to be in the midst of so many talented professors and peers.”

MSA’s Suzanne Hirsch said she met Murray when she was hired as executive director.

“I met Jasmine Murray as a senior at MSA, my first year as executive director,” she said. “Over that year, I got the pleasure to have conversations with her about her future plans and various school issues. What I found is that Jasmine was always genuine and kind. The fact that she has built a career as a Christian music artist is no surprise. She had extraordinary talent paired with a truly beautiful spirit. It has been so wonderful to watch her grow as an artist and honor her gift of music. This is only the beginning for her success. I am sure of it.”

Jennifer Jackson’s daughter Kelsey attended MSA with Murray. They met while competing in the Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen Pageant in 2007.  Murray won and Jackson was first-runner up.

“They were fast friends so when Jasmine also decided to attend MSA, they both made it in the Vocal Music program.  It was only natural for us to be her host family,” Jackson said. “I knew from the first time I met her, she was a very special young lady. She is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  It has been so special to be able to be there with her for so many milestones and  amazing things she has accomplished and to watch her grow up from a teen to the woman she is today.”

The Jacksons were there for the “American Idol” finals, Miss Mississippi and Miss America.

“She has been such a positive role model to so many young girls through the years and it just warms my heart to see how God has blessed her to use her talent to praise Him,” she said. “She has been such a blessing to me and she will always be part of my family. I’m a very proud parent.”