CRESTVIEW — Doug Black, 18, of Crestview, will compete in the last stage of competition in the annual Assemblies of God National Fine Arts Festival. The finals are Aug. 7-11 in Anaheim, California.

Black is the only male solo vocalist advancing to nationals after the April 8 West Florida district preliminary contest in Marianna.

"I felt like I had a decent chance of making it," Black said about his advancement to this year's finals. "I made it (during) my first year of fine arts but I dropped out that year from the singing area, so this year I felt like I've improved vocally from that last year." 

The Collegiate High School graduate said he looks forward to the trip to Anaheim, especially meeting people and "getting out and being able to see places and experience things I've never been and experienced before." 

If he does well, he may get scholarships to Assemblies of God colleges and other prizes, according to his mom, Nancy.

"These will help him to determine what college he will ultimately attend. The top winner in the vocal solo divisions may even have a chance at a recording contract or tour offers," she said.

When asked what school he's considering, Doug said, "At this point, I'm not really set on one specific school. It really just depends on what the results are at the end of the competition, and I'm looking forward to all the changes in the future that will potentially lead me places."

Doug's family also includes his dad, Corey, brother Robert, and sisters Tabitha and Brittni. They attend Holt Assembly of God.

The teenager performed at this year's Laurel Hill Arts & Heritage Festival, and while he likes entertaining crowds, he prefers performing in more intimate settings such as birthday parties. 

"Even though it's a smaller group, I get to genuinely connect with the people that I'm singing to and know they're enjoying it as much as I am," he said.

In addition to singing, he enjoys drawing and painting.

And "I like animals a lot; I currently work at a pet store. I just enjoy being able to help people and see people be happy with what I'm doing," Doug said.

After the art competition is over, he will attend some AG missions schools over the next year.

"Hopefully I'll be doing some music with them and helping people in different countries if I can. Hopefully, that will give me some time to think about what I want to pursue in the near future."

That includes participation in the Youth with a Mission AG program in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"This is another 'raise your tuition before you come' situation," his mom said, "but we feel it is very much worth it."

While airfare to the California competition for him and his chaperone (his sister Tabitha) is completely paid for, Doug is working at Petland in Fort Walton Beach to raise the remaining $3,000 needed for the trip.

Supporters can visit, or email to help.