BEMIDJI -- Fourteen singers from around the area competed Thursday night for their chance to represent Bemidji at the Minnesota Sings competition in Woodbury in September.
The Bemidji Sings! vocal competition held for the second year by Headwaters Music and Arts at BSU's Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex, sold out with more than 230 tickets sold.
The first- and second-place winners in two categories move on to Woodbury. A third-place alternate also is chosen in case one of the competitors can't make the trip.
Singers performed in two age categories. Division I singers ranging in age from 15 to 25 were McKayla Syverson, Maya Lindquist, Susannah Carter, Britta Aas, Carson Carter, Brooke Donaghue, Skilah Hurd, Laura Ricke and Charlotte Saxton.
Division II singers were those ages 26 and older, including April Aylesworth, Ronelva Gustafson, Darolyn Erickson, Traci Djonne Schanke and Kari Grace.
Saxton took first place in Division I, with Carter taking second place and third-place alternate was Aas.
Grace took first place in Division II, with second place going to Aylesworth and Erickson was the third-place alternate.
The third-place winner in each division received $50, second place $100 and first place $500.
The winner in each division also won a free half-day of recording at Supple Studios in Bemidji.
Singers were judged on their vocal skills, pitch, breath control, dynamics, phrasing, annunciation, tone, presentation skills, eye contact, facial expression and overall technique and impression of performance.
Judges included Zachary Swank, Peter McKenzie, Kitty O'Connor, Karen Bradley and Linda Wagner.
“This is a great chance to showcase the musical talents of our Bemidji singers,” Tricia Andrews, executive director at Headwaters Music and Arts said. “We are excited to host it and support it.”
The event was emceed by David Eichholz of Deuces Wild Dueling Pianos. “Last year was really good, and this year when David agreed to be the emcee for this event he said let’s blow the roof off this year, and I think we’re doing it,” Andrews said.
Minnesota Sings is in its sixth year, and gives over $10,000 in cash prizes in each age division with a first place prize of $3,000.
At the end of the program, all of the finalists gathered around the piano played by Eichholz to sing "Don't Stop Believing" while waiting for the judges to decide on the night's winners.