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The usual suspects triumphed at Monday's karaoke contest held at AMVETS Post 88 in Bronson, though the menu of music on tap was long and deep.
It took a three-way sing-off to crown Carissa Fields of Chiefland, with her letter-perfect rendition of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." Bronson's Reginald Stacy placed second with his tiebreak song of "Purple Rain," by Prince, and Samantha Beckham was third with Martina McBride's "Independence Day."
The top three were outstanding, with incredible capability of breath and tone control. Beckham is a refreshing contestant to hear, taking chances with complex songs that require fine navigation of half- and quarter-tone changes. She elbowed her way into the tiebreaker with a fierce version of Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy."
Stacy's voice has a sweet spot in the soul register, even when he's singing country, and when he plunges deep, every ear perks up. "Purple Rain" is a standard for him, but he charmed the country crowd with his early entries of "I'm Already Gone" and "Drift Away."
Fields, a technician, held long sustains without so much as a waver or quaver. She hit all the funny spots in "All That Jazz," from the musical "Chicago" before advancing to the competition-killer that won it for her in the final.
Judges Sandy Russell, Marjorie McGarva and Valerie Bates sweated before finally naming Fields the winner.
"What we had to do here, I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Russell told the crowd before announcing the winners.
But the rest of the field also impressed the audience. Some of the best singers, like Beckham, took bold chances. That was the case with Carol Ann Keller, who bravely and successfully sang Roy Orbison's "Crying" and "Blue Bayou," and Beth Patterson, who brought down the house with Tammy Wynett's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."
Others drove grand slams at songs that were, so to speak, in their wheelhouse, like Christine Haney's "Help Me Make it Through the Night" and Amy Fields' "If I Ain't Got You." Some singers were surprising in their sweetness, like Ron Bews with his performance of Lionel Richie's "Three Times a Lady." Jerry Dorman earned big points for his start-to-finish showmanship and Niles Oscarman did everyone a favor with his ultra-smooth rendition of Bobby Vinton's doo-wop classic "You Are My Special Angel."
Even when the singing wasn't quite all there, it was good enough to dance to, as the cheek-to-cheek couples proved. As judges delibrated, a ringer from another competition slipped in for a quick song. Natalie Green, who said she'd just come from winning one of the Levy County Fair qualifying contests, sang "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and made everyone get up and stomp.
"I don't see you clapping," she admonished one patron. "Come on now!"
AMVETS' karaoke contest, produced by A Touch of Class Karaoke, was a stand-alone event, with the winning contestants taking proportional shares of the entry fees: $120 for first prize, $72 for second and $43 for third. All entry fee proceeds went to contest winners.