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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.

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Emcee Eric Carlson, right, and contestants sing a group rendition of "I Can See Clearly Now" at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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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.

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Local singer/songwriter and musician Eric Carlson emcees the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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.

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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.”

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Jacob Anderson sings “Friday Night” by Eric Paslay at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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.

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Helen Bartlett sings "Astonishing" from Little Women at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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.”

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Katelynn Davids sings “Memory" from the musical Cats at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Aspen Tobin sings "Chandelier" by Sia at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Sophia Haubrich sings "When We Were Young" by Adele at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Brooke Kemp sings Adele's "Easy On Me" at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Blaine Ludeman sings John Lennon's "Imagine" at the Bemidji Sings! vocal competition on Friday, July 15, 2022, at Headwaters Music and Arts.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: MUSIC
Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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