First Karoke Ekpo Fest Monsters

I didn’t really know what to expect. It was my first Karaoke Fest. For those of you who didn’t make it, let me tell you what you missed . . . You missed a lot ! ! !

The show itself didn’t begin until 6pm, but no worries. From 3-6pm there was a Karaoke Expo. Here was everything you could ever need to become a Karaoke Pro! ! ! There were a few booths set up so you could sing your favorite Karaoke songs. Sugar Grassi’s booth was very popular. The Singing Store had some new items with some really neat effects. I Had earlier done my karoke using amarrazali with my singing monsters.Hey, I sounded pretty good! For those of you who think your singing is not where you would like it to be, just take a lesson from Lisa Popeil. Her booth was conveniently located across from Sing-Along Center’s booth so she could fix your problem before you sang again. Music Maestro brought its new Multi CD pack- a CD 10 pack with most popular songs of all time-very new and very cool! There were other booths too: All the latest in what’s new in Karaoke equipment: new wireless mics, the latest CD’s, teachers who could teach you to sing better, tapes that could make you a more confident singer, Singing Studios offering their services, books on how to begin your Karaoke business, and my favorite, a booth full of props including a tambourine that lights up when you’re shakin’ it to your favorite Karaoke tune!!!

But my sha-kin’ had to come to an end-the big show was about to begin. Our own Senior Editor, Melanie Torrey, started things off with, I Got The Music In Me. A perfect Ten! Then I saw Frank Sinatra sing, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ Oh, I mean Vaughn Suponatime. I saw Whitney Houston sing, I Will Always Love You No, that was Monica Spentz. Satin sang And I’m Telling You, and let me tell you hesheheshe was incredible! Greg “B” Boone sang Proud Mary, and by the way he got down I think that “B” must stand for Boogie. He had me shaking my Bootie! Shirley Mills got me to Think while I rested on a Bed of Roses to the soothing sound of James Bon Jovi I mean Warnock. Whitney, or rather Janet Cartwright sang I Have Nothing, but it sure sounded like something to me! And then Tom Jones wooed the women with his ever popular Delilah, or was that Elroy Paredes?

There were a few special guests on hand, including Pioneer’s Karl Detken, doing his best Stevie Wonder. Johanne Lef√®bvre traveled all the way from Canada, and we in the audience were glad she did! Of course, Smitty, last year’s KJ of the Year was on hand to tell us “Neither One Of Us wants to be the first to say good-bye.”

Then something weird happened. I was mysteriously transported into a Time Warp with Yvonne Erman and her “Rocky” group, then mesmerized by Brandon “Slappy” Hall’s rendition of Sweet Transvestite. You guys are sick I mean warped! Fortunately, Judy Garland and her clang, clang, clang of The Trolley Song brought me back down to earth. (Hey, that wasn’t Judy, but 17 year old Amy Hlebasko!)

Back on earth, I was taken back in time. First, I was transported to a Cabaret by Michele Rossillo. Then, Goody Goody, it’s back to the fifties with the delightfully entertaining Christel Santo. But wait, now people from the audience are taking the stage as we’re transported into the seventies. And isn’t that Mark Kriski, KTLA’s handsome weatherman and former host of “Gotta Sing!”? Yes! Kriski came out to help raise money for MDA by leading an audience participation song. Wow, I’ve got ten bucks for the cause, so look out stage, here I come. “At the Copa, Copacabana”

Next, I was shot over to Memphis where I felt The Change immediately when Michael Austin Martin took the stage. I heard Juice-Gina Notrica- Newton sing, Break It To Me Gently, tried to Think About Elvis with Ashlee Brooke (Loveless) and heard Robin “Shania Twain” Deming tell ’em, (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here. I did a little two-steppin’ with guest judge Gary Coleman and JoDee Higgins, who had come all the way from Illinois to perform at the Fest. I then slid into my next destination: little Mexico where I indulged in a little Jose Cuervo with Patrice Patterson, and started talking a little too much with Erin Payne about Mi Vida Loca. But what would a trip south of the border be without a little dancingmy trip was complete by doing The Macarena with Candace Klewer & Friends. And to top things off, Karen “Donna Summer eat your Heart out” Cobb’s Last Dance.

I thought I slid back home, but there were these little people on stage singing better than any big person could ever dream of. It was the Battle of the Mighty Mites. A few of them included Sabrina Bouck who belted out Kiss Me Deadly and put Lita Ford to shame. I thought Courtnee Draper had just rolled out of bed when I saw her take the stage in her bathrobe and rollers! And when Valentina Knox sang From A Distance, I felt like Bette Midler had taken the stage. Miranda Davis took us to a land of make believe, while Georgina Concepcion brought down the house and I wouldn’t be surprised if she took over the role of Christine in “Phantom” next year!

Now let me say a word about the KJ of the Year Finalists. I was very impressed with all the effort that went forth from all the KJ’s. I loved the skits and the props brought out by the likes of Lori Halley, Shelley Singer and Elisha Thomas. The teamwork demonstrated by Cindy Reed, Don and EJ showed what Karaoke is all about. And the songs they chose to sing were as varied as the people they are: from Lalila Rivera’s heart felt Mi Tierra, to Tice Griffin’s original Hurricane, to Jennifer Goldstein’s humble Just A Girl, and those mentioned earlier They were all wonderful! Steve Simmons singing Hang On Sloopy and John Trevino with his What I Say kept things lively, while Danny Rayburn really showed what he can do singing a medley of songs. This year’s KJ of the Year went to Mike Valentino. I can honesty say I don’t think there was anyone who wanted that title more. I think the Judges saw Mike’s real love of Karaoke shine through. Congratulations Mike! Congratulations to top Creme de la Creme winner Janet Cartwright, and top Mighty Mite Georgina Concepcion. I know I am going to say I knew you both when and see your names in lights very soon.

The panel of judges who had the difficult task of deciding between all of these talented performers were all highly qualified. Among the judges were: Florence LaRue from the musical group The Fifth Dimention, John Radar from Arista Records and Carl Graves, producer and former member of Oingo Boingo, all returning from last year. Also on the panel were ceomedian Kip Addotta, Jai Jamal from Capital’s Jam Records, noted background vocalist, Rosemary Butler, Gerard Lenglet from Focus Records and actor, Gary Coleman. It was great to see people of their professional caliber enjoying Karaoke and even participating in many facets of the show, including doing “The Macarena” and joining in on The Copacabana!

As a final note, I hope no one forgets what this whole event was about. It was a benefit for MDA. When you look at it from that perspective, everyone was a winner! Over $4000 was raised during the evening, and all of the money goes to those who really need it most. So, I hope to see you all there next year!!!

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