Six wannabe warblers are taking their favourite tunes to the next level.
For some, a Friday night behind the mic at a dingy bar is a one-off drunken memory—for others, it’s another chance to hone their craft as they chase the dream of the Karaoke World Championships.
This past summer, the most dedicated of the city’s amateur vocalists came together for the provincial finals to put their pipes to the test.
Pictured left to right:
“I heard about this competition and immediately wanted to do it because I knew good things would come of it. I knew it would make me better. So my husband and I taped my karaoke every night, and we would go home and analyze it and slowly make improvements. The thing that karaoke does for you is it teaches you how to communicate with a crowd. It’s not something that you can learn in a classroom—you have to go out there and do it. You can love a song to death and do an amazing job with it. But if you’re not connecting with the crowd, they’re just gonna ignore you and go on their phones and drink. So you have to figure out how to reach them. This is a very supportive crowd, so it’s safe to take risks.”—Corinne Friesen, 58, yoga blogger and math tutor
Go-to song: “The Sound of Silence,” Disturbed version
“I used to hate karaoke. I would feel sick and I was so nervous, but then I started singing and it just kind of went from there. I still feel sick every single time. Usually, I have a couple of drinks before I go on. I hate doing it sober—like, deadly sober.”—Sarah Topham, 30, server/bartender
Go-to song: “Make You Feel My Love,” Adele version
“My parents are my biggest fans. My mom likes Whitney’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ and my dad liked Celine’s ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ I lost my dad last year, and I sang it at his celebration of life.”—Kat Leminski, 46, housewife
Go-to song: “Why Haven’t I Heard from You,” Reba McEntire
“I just signed up for the contest because why not, right? I’m rather unique—like Leonard Cohen meets Rob Zombie.”—Ty Michelin, 39, roofing inspector
Go-to song: “Li’l Red Riding Hood,” Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
“My name is Judy, so during karaoke in the late ’90s, I’d hear ‘oo’ and ‘ee’ in the same breath and it was my turn. Like, they’d say ‘Julie,’ they’d say ‘Trudy,’ and they’d say ‘Rudy,’ and I’d be up there because it sounded like my turn. I finally decided that wasn’t working very well, so I started using ‘Jas’ —my initials. Now they call ‘Jas’ and I know it’s me.”—Judy Smith (Lady Jas), 75, admin support clerk
Go-to song: “I love power songs”
“People say that karaoke’s not real singing, but if you can’t sing or you don’t know the song or the catch of the tune, you’re gonna screw up. So I don’t think it’s any different than singing professionally. To me, it’s connecting with a song. If I can connect with a song, I’ll sing it. If I can’t, I don’t wanna sing it.”—Terry Hill, 49, food and beverage operations manager at YVR
Go-to song: "Wild Horses,” Susan Boyle version
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