Local singers perform in 5th annual Bemidji Sings! competition
Local singers performed live on Friday, July 15, to compete for cash prizes and a chance to perform at the statewide Minnesota Sings competition in October.
BEMIDJI — Local singers performed live on Friday, July 15, to compete for cash prizes and a chance to perform at the statewide Minnesota Sings competition in October.
Inside the Headwaters Music and Arts Performance Hall, family, friends and community members gathered for the fifth annual Bemidji Sings! event. The night’s lineup included seven finalists, including Jacob Anderson, Helen Bartlett, Katelyn David, Sophia Haubrich, Brooke Kemp, Blaine Ludeman and Aspen Tobin competing in two age categories, Division I for ages 13-20, and Division II for ages 21 and up.
Participants also had the chance to win cash prizes. The third place prize in each division was $75, second place was $150 and first place was $300 along with recording time at Supple Studios, a Bemidji-based music studio.
The event was emceed by local singer/songwriter and musician Eric Carlson, and judges included Zachary Swank, Pat Mason and NikkiLee Nolden who evaluated their final decisions based on the singers’ vocal skills, presentation, audience response and choice of material.
This year’s performers gave everything they had on stage knowing they could have the chance to compete at Minnesota Sings, which is awarded to the first and second place winners in each division. Each city with its own local “Sings” event is eligible to send four singers to the statewide competition, which takes place in New Ulm in October.
Jacob Anderson kicked off the evening’s performances and also shared an inspiring story before he sang “Friday Night” by Eric Paisley, marking his second year competing in Bemidji Sings!
“I didn’t mention this last year, but I’m actually on the autism spectrum,” Anderson said, “but whenever I’m on stage, it feels like I was born to do this.”
Anderson, being the only performer in the 21 and older division, went on to take the $300 cash prize, recording time with Supple Studios and will advance to the statewide competition.
Helen Bartlett sang "Astonishing" from the Broadway musical "Little Women" and took first place in Division I for ages 13 to 20, followed by runner-up Sophia Haubrich who sang “When We Were Young” by Adele and Brooke Kemp coming in third place singing “Easy On Me” by Adele.
The other singers included Katelyn David performing “Memory” from the musical “Cats,” followed by Blaine Ludeman singing “Imagine” by John Lennon. Closing out the competition for the evening was Aspen Tobin who sang “Chandelier” by Sia.
As the audience members awaited the results, they were then invited to join in the singing of “I Can See Clearly Now” and “Let it Be” accompanied by Bemidji Sings! finalists and emcee Eric Carlson on guitar.
“I want to make note of one thing,” judge Zachary Swank remarked before announcing the awards. “Hearing these singers in June, then hearing them again in July and seeing if they went into the practice room and worked on (their songs), just hearing the improvements… that's probably the most rewarding.”