An Orlando singer has broken the tent ceiling by being named the first female ringmaster in the 146-year history of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Kristen Michelle Wilson beat out hundreds of candidates in a nationwide open audition to earn the prestigious role. Her first performance will be Jan. 12 at the Amway Center in Orlando. A national tour will follow, with stops in 33 cities next year for Circus XTREME, which includes 107 performers and 50 animals.

The professional singer with a background in theater brings her talent and enthusiastic energy to the iconic role of ringmaster, transforming and further modernizing The Greatest Show On Earth as the show’s 39th ringmaster.

Circus officials said they were not looking specifically for a woman but for the best candidate. Wilson’s dynamic performance and tremendous stage presence stood out among the other contestants.

“We constantly travel the globe looking for the best and brightest talent,” said Alana Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment and producer of Ringling Bros. “Kristen Michelle Wilson wowed us with her powerful voice and charismatic personality.”

Wilson studied international affairs at Florida State University in her hometown of Tallahassee. She moved to Orlando in 2010 and has performed in dinner theaters and as the lead singer of a band called the Sonic Gypsies.

“The Feld Family continues to bring fresh, modern elements to their productions and Circus XTREME is no exception,” says Wilson, 35. “To be the ringmaster of The Greatest Show On Earth is a bucket-list role.”