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Karaoke Daydreams

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You have always dreamed of rocking the microphone under the bright lights, in front of a crowd of lushes. Unfortunately, mom and dad wanted you to be an accountant instead, which is basically the same as being a rock star right?

You may be stuck crunching numbers during the day, but at night you could still live out that long lost dream of becoming the Bon Jovi of your generation. Late at night, after the mathematicians go to bed, the karaoke competitions begin. Lori Clayton is a veteran karaoke contestant, and she is here to tell you everything you need to know to about becoming a small stage starlet.

1. Where do you find these contests to enter?

I usually hear about contests from friends, on Facebook and in certain instances, on Craigslist. I belong to a lot of pages for clubs, bars, bands and KJ’s (Karaoke Jockey) that promote these sorts of events.

2. How do you enter a karaoke contest?

It depends on what type of contest it is. U Rock, which is a live band Karaoke business, has an online sign up sheet and a limited song selection available on their page. The contest I was just in however, Denver’s Next Nightclub Star 4, (DNNS 4) held auditions and required a $50.00 entrance fee. Guitar Villains required you to purchase and sell 10 tickets to their event. However, most of the contests that I’ve entered at the bar level, do not require any sort of audition or entrance fee.

3. What kinds of prizes can you win?

Bar tabs, gift certificates and cash!!! DNNS 4 has a $2,000.00 cash prize for the winner, plus a Winner’s show, recording studio time and photo shoot.

4. Tell us exactly what a karaoke contest is.

A bar based karaoke contest consists of a KJ, who has a selection of recorded music, a rotation and a karaoke screen available, and the contests are open to anyone who wants to sing. Judges usually consist of the wait staff and/or guests of the KJ. DNNS 4 holds their competitions in theaters with a stage. Contestants had to audition in advance, and after the contestants are selected, the competition is closed to just those selected. The contest has been ongoing since August and the winners are selected based on judges votes and audience votes combined. In live band competitions like Guitar Villains, contestants sign up before hand and the are selected by a lotto drawing, and they required each participant to purchase a certain amount of tickets beforehand to be re-sold to friends and family. They awarded their winners based on ticket sales, judges votes and audience participation. U Rock also has a sign up sheet online, and the contestants are selected on a first-come first serve basis. U Rock has a panel of judges and a “cheer meter” to select the winners.

5. How did you first get involved in karaoke contests?

I did my first real competition about four years ago, at a bowling alley called Chipper’s Lanes. The contest was regional, and after about 8 weeks of qualifying rounds, the competitors were put in a rotation by drawing lots, and the winner received a trip to Las Vegas to compete for $5000.00. It was so much fun, even though I didn’t win, I found it to be a great way to hear some amazing singers, meet new friends and possibly win a little money!

6. How many contests have you done?

I have competed in several major competitions, Denver’s Next Nightclub Star 3 & 4, Talent Quest, Guitar Villain’s and U Rock, and Take the Money and Run 2.

7. Do you do any other singing, or is it strictly karaoke?

I write and record my own original music, and have performed at several festivals including Parker Days and The Jefferson County Fair. I have also recorded many cover songs which I promote on my own music page on Facebook Lori “Bella” Clayton. My next goal is to get into musical theater and audition for plays and Musicals.

8. What is it about doing these contests that you like so much?

I used to be extremely shy, and I discovered very quickly that getting brave enough to get up and sing in front of a crowd of strangers can be very liberating. It has increased my self- confidence and is also very therapeutic. I can forget my troubles for a few minutes or a few hours. Also, I just love to sing!

9. How do you prepare?

In the bar competitions, there really isn’t any preparation, you just select a song and sing it. But for the major competitions like DNNS and the live band competitions where I knew my song in advance, I would find the track on a site like YouTube and practice at home on my computer. For DNNS 4 and Guitar Villains, where there wasn’t a karaoke screen, I would have to spend some time memorizing the song. It is a lot of hard work, a lot of practice and a lot of fun when everything comes together onstage.

10. Do you have any favorite songs or artists you like to sing?

I love Stevie Nicks, I’m probably one of her biggest fans, and I love to do her songs and Fleetwood Mac songs. I also like to sing Heart, Cher, Evanescence & sometimes Broadway show tunes like “Memory” from Cats or “Roxie” from Chicago. Those who know me in the karaoke circles, enjoy it when I put on my “Stevie Nicks” attire and do a full night of Fleetwood Mac songs. One day I hope to put on a full Stevie Nicks revue! I’m also hoping to earn a performance slot at the Night of 1,000 Stevie’s event held in New York each May. Last year, I auditioned and was one of 10 acts considered for the event.

11. Do you have any tips for someone who might want to start doing karaoke contests?

Start small, find a bar that holds a weekly competition, and compete for bar tabs, then work your way up to larger competitions, and live band competitions. Be careful with alcohol consumption, because a lot of clubs have rules in place for performers -- I don’t drink at all, but if you need a shot of liquid courage, limit it to one or two, because nothing is worse than an overly drunk singer -- it’s painful to watch and to listen to!! If someone does decide to do a competition like DNNS, take the time to find a vocal coach and get some lessons, find a rehearsal space to practice, and recruit some friends or fellow contestants to help you build an act. Be patient, don’t get discouraged, and mostly, have fun with it!!!

12. Anything else you would like to add?

Be careful, karaoke is highly addicting, lots of fun, and can lead to endless smiles, treasured friendships and some sleepless nights!

Thank you, Lori, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to inform us all on this electrifying karaoke scene. I hope you are all ready to sing some karaoke and win the big bucks! Break a leg!

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If you liked this article, check out other articles written by Adriane Levine.

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