Bringing home the karaoke prize
You’ve seen or heard of them all — “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “XFactor.”
Participants endure weeks of competition and winners are catapulted to success and international notoriety. Recently, a bit of that fame touched a local resident, Mellissa Cripps, with some stardust of her own.
“Some people think 50 signals the end of the meaningful time of life, but that isn’t the case for me,” she said. “Fifty-seven has been the best year of my life!”
Cripps, assistant since 2010 to the executive director of the Charlotte Players, Sherrie Moody, won the Women’s Masters Championship in the over-50 category of the Talent Quest National Karaoke singing contest in Laughlin, Nev., last month. With the award came a $2,500 cash prize, state-of-the-art karaoke equipment, and a recording contract with Priddis Music.
Tim Brown, who oversees the national search, explained that a program that started with 11 states in 2000 now involves 33-plus states and includes contestants from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. Current categories include pop, rock, R and B, and country, with entrants progressing from local to regional and, finally, to the national level.
The local qualifying round for the Talent Quest competition was held at the Charlotte Players headquarters, and then moved on to the state round in Tampa in May, with Cripps clinching a spot in the nationals.
The format of the Talent Quest makes it clear that since points are divided among stage presence, appearance and talent, choice of music is crucial. Harking back to the classics, the Englewood woman chose “Maybe this Time” to kick off her entry, followed by “But the World Goes Round,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” — show-stopper from the musical “Chicago” — and finally “The Man That Got Away.”
“Melissa has a fabulous voice and a big heart — she’s a winner,” Brown said.
So, what motivates someone to dive into a competition with this many hoops and challenges? This victory did not come to her casually. “I’ve been performing my entire life — piano, choir, high school musicals and local theater,” she said.
In addition, having achieved a dramatic weight loss and reconnecting with a long-lost friend helped propel her. She also credits the encouragement of her friends and her mother — a 92-year-old former Army nurse, for her persistence. Putting this accomplishment behind her will definitely not dampen her entertainment involvement, though. Her performances will continue with an appearance in a local musical in November.
Winning her first formal competition was a mind-blower, Cripps said, because there were hundreds of entrants, all striving to put their own best musical foot forward.