SIOUX CITY | A talented singer, dancer and actor, Mackenzie Crawford, 11, is already what you'd call a triple-threat.

"I also play softball, basketball and volleyball," the East Middle School sixth grader mentioned.

OK, Mackenzie may, in fact, be considered a quadruple-threat. 

"You see, I love doing a lot of things," she said with a confident grin.

But Mackenzie especially enjoys singing. She was one of seven winners in the "Sprout" (ages 2 - 12) division during the championship round of the 58th annual Iowa State Fair Bill Riley Talent Search Competition, Aug. 20, in Des Moines.

Contestants for the Bill Riley Talent Search were drawn from nearly 100 qualifying shows around the state. Each contestant needed to perform in a preliminary round at a local qualifying show before advancing to the semifinals in Des Moines.

"I performed at both the Plymouth County Fair and the Woodbury County Fair," Mackenzie explained. "That made me eligible to advance to the semifinal rounds and, then, the final 'Sprout' round."

All of this competitive singing would've been nerve-wracking for a typical kid. But Mackenzie is far from typical. 

"I chose 'On My Own' from 'Les Miserables' because a difficult song to sing would show my range as a performer," she said.

Mike Crawford simply smiles when his daughter reveals her winning strategy.

"By the time Mackenzie was 3 years old, she was already singing (Taylor Swift's) 'You Belong with Me,'" he remembered. "When she started entering talent competitions, Mackenzie was singing songs like  'Part of the World' (from 'The Little Mermaid')."

"My daughter always knew what she wanted to do," Crawford added. "She was also willing to put in all of the long hours to achieve her dreams."

That included taking dance lessons, acting in productions at LAMB Arts Regional Theatre and singing the National Anthem at a variety of sporting events.

"The best way to sing the 'Star Spangled Anthem' is to do it straight," Mackenzie said. "If you try to change it too much, you'll mess up."

So, what does Mackenzie like to do when she isn't singing? Well, she likes watching others sing.

"I love movies and, currently, my favorite one is (the 2016 animated feature) 'Sing,' which revolves around a talent competition," she said. 

Mostly, Mackenzie would like to follow in the footsteps of Taylor Swift, her favorite singer-songwriter.

"I've just started writing songs," she allowed. "It's a lot different than just singing songs."

Then again, she could also go the diva route like Whitney Houston, another one of Mackenzie's all-time idols.

"The only thing I know is that I will always be singing," Mackenzie said. "I'm happy whenever I get the chance to sing."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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