CHERRYFIELD, Maine — Alexis Fletcher, 13, of Cherryfield is one of about 20 Mainers headed to an international country music competition in March.

She was among the winners in the Down East Country Music Association’s annual statewide competition, held last summer.

Winners in the state competition qualify to compete March 7-13 at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The competition, sponsored by the North America Country Music Associations International, will feature competitors from 20 states and Canada.

Alexis said she gets nervous whenever she performs but “not nearly as much as my mom does.”

“I always told her … I keep all her nervousness in my stomach,” her mother, Rebecca Fletcher, said.

“When you think about [performing], it’s scary,” Alexis Fletcher said. “Once you get on stage, it’s not as frightening.”

DECMA President Jackie Harmon said competing in Tennessee is “a big deal.”

Musicians who win their local contests can compete in their age group in one of five categories: traditional country, new country, traditional gospel, new gospel and bluegrass, Harmon said.

“We have real young kids to people in their 70s that compete,” she said.

Those who place first, second or third at the DECMA competition are qualified to compete in Tennessee but only if they achieve a high enough qualifying score, she said.

Competitors must be DECMA members, but joining is easy, she said, adding the group, founded in 1981, has 250 to 300 members.

In the most recent DECMA competition, Alexis Fletcher competed in the new country category for those ages 13 to 16. The eighth-grader at Cherryfield Elementary School placed second.

During the competition, she sang “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes and a newer version of the song “Jolene” based on the version by Miley Cyrus.

The young singer, though, has only been performing for about two years.

“I was always fascinated by music,” said Alexis Fletcher, who is a member of the school chorus.

One day, Rebecca Fletcher said, her daughter announced she wanted to sign up for the Down East Idol contest, even though it was only two weeks away and she wouldn’t have much time to prepare.

“She had the most shocked look on her face,” Alexis Fletcher, who placed third, said.

Alexis Fletcher has competed in Down East Idol twice since then, placing first one year and second the other, Rebecca Fletcher said.

Now Alexis Fletcher takes singing and guitar lessons with teacher Bobbi Lane, who said the young singer has two important qualities the judges are looking for.

“They don’t want just somebody who can sing. They want somebody who’s easy to work with,” Lane of Bar Harbor said.

Alexis Fletcher practices about an hour and a half each day. Meanwhile, many of her friends and teachers have been supportive of her efforts, with some attend her competitions and others send their good wishes.

“I am super proud of her because she’s super, super talented,” Rebecca Fletcher said.

Anyone interested in learning more about DECMA can call Harmon at 793-8884.