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Annie Banks continues to hit high notes
Annie Banks sings “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on Wednesday during the Manteca Idol competition. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Annie Banks is no stranger to the world of Manteca Idol.

For the last several years, the crowd-pleasing young redhead has dazzled with everything from girlish good looks to a voice that can at times put you back in your seat and leave you blurry-eyed as you try and figure out whether this is really an elementary school student that’s blowing you away.

But the 12-year-old red-headed Banks – who has come a long ways since she first stepped out with a microphone in hand – the whole idea behind being a Manteca Idol participant in enjoying what it is that she loves to do the most.

“I’ve always been a fan of singing, and while it was kind of nerve wracking at first, you get used to it and you start to enjoy that,” said Banks during Wednesday’s Manteca Junior Idol competition at Chez Shari. “Just seeing so many people in the audience can make you want to freeze, but then your instincts take over.”

Banks became a fan favorite even as far back as the Kelley Brothers days when she’d don a purple wizard’s hat for what would be her signature song – “The Wizard and I” – which got her through more rounds against professionally trained singers than anybody would have ever thought.

Maybe it was the innocence that she carried when she sauntered out behind the microphone with the soft-spoken voice. Maybe it was the way that she could hit the highest notes possible when she needed to get the attention of the judges and everybody else in a three-block radius.

On Wednesday, however, the “Young Annie Banks” as she’s been dubbed by almost every emcee that has had the honor of introducing her to the crowd showed why she belonged – the daughter of Jamyn and Paul doing what it is that she loves to do and forgetting about all of the other worries in the world when she’s pacing that stage and letting her voice do her talking all on its own.

While she struggled a bit going against the professionally trained, Banks seems to headed straight for that Junior Manteca Idol crown during its inaugural year, and just about anyone who has watched her grow up with that microphone in her hand can see that it won’t be the last award she wins for her vocal prowess.

But don’t start asking too many questions about her future or what she wants to do. Like most kids her age, Banks is just looking to have fun – and for her fun involves having a microphone in hand.

“I like giving everything that I have in my performances,” said the young girl who picked “Total Eclipse of the Heart” as her song of the night. “It’s fun for me to be up here, and that’s what I look forward to the most.”