BEMIDJI -- April Aylesworth hasn’t had much time for music. The 40-year-old mother of four said she hadn’t even touched her guitar for years.
“Then a couple years ago I picked it up again and I started doing some open mics,” she said.
One thing led to another, and now she’s headed to a professional recording studio after winning a statewide singing contest.
Aylesworth sang her way to a first-place finish and three other Bemidjians took the stage last weekend at the sixth annual Minnesota Sings competition in Woodbury.
Aylesworth won the older (age 26 and over) division with a rousing version of “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” a song made popular by Meghan Trainor.
She will receive a $3,000 check, plus $1,000 for her sponsor (Headwaters Music & Arts), $1,000 for her hometown charity (Support Within Reach) and a five-hour recording session with studio musicians and a producer at The Garage in Burnsville.
“I may end up using the recording time for a song that I wrote,” she said. “This gives me motivation to do more with music.”
Kari Grace of Bemidji took third place in the adult division. She sang “Have a Little Faith in Me,” by John Hiatt in the finals on Sunday. Grace will receive a $1,000 check, $500 for her sponsor (Headwaters Music & Arts) and a three-hour professional recording session.
Charlotte Saxton, a Bemidji High School sophomore, advanced to the finals in the younger (15- to 25-year-old) division and finished seventh. She will receive a microphone and mic stand for her prizes.
Susannah (Roed) Carter of Bemidji also competed in the state finals for the second straight year. She won the first Bemidji Sings competition in 2018.
All four earned their trips to Woodbury at the 2019 Bemidji Sings competition Aug. 1 at Bemidji State University, where Saxton took first place and Carter second in the younger division, and Grace took first and Aylesworth second in the older division.
For the competition, vocalists must bring their own background music. In Aylesworth’s case, she recorded herself on guitar for background.
“I was very nervous,” said Aylesworth, who won over more than 30 singers from throughout Minnesota. “I visualized it and practiced in my mind. Honestly I was hoping to make top eight in my category. Getting first was really surprising.”