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Fresh from AMTC event, Ekhoff says real work starts now

BEMIDJI -- After spending a whirlwind week among nearly 900 performers at the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ SHINE event in Florida, Bemidji's Kari Ekhoff says it's time for the real work to start.

Ekhoff, a 37-year-old mother of three who moved to Bemidji a year ago, was not selected as one of the finalists in the weeklong SHINE conference. But she did gain valuable experience and feedback from talent scouts and agents, and she came away encouraged as she considers a musical and/or acting career.

"It was a great experience," said Ekhoff, whose husband, Paul, accompanied her to Florida. "I've never been around so many Christian people with such talent and such an encouraging atmosphere."

There were rehearsals and performances every day. They were judged with a point system and about 20 singers of all ages made it to the finals.

"I wasn't saddened at all that I wasn't picked," Ekhoff said. "I probably made about 12 really positive contacts with people from all over, Nashville, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto. I will be following up with these people.

"Now the steps are artist development," she added. "If you're a singer or a band or an artist you need to develop your craft on your own."

One record label representative advised Ekhoff to write some of her own music. A surprise was receiving a callback from a casting director who saw her potential for acting.

Ekhoff said in a couple of weeks she will post a reel highlighting her SHINE performances on her YouTube site. "That's my online resume," she said. "When I meet with agents they will want to see it."

Meanwhile, she plans to make a CD and perform at open mic events in the area. She will sing during Art in the Park July 18-20 in Library Park.