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Like a song


Karaoke brings out the singer in all of us. Yes, even those who can’t carry a tune.

Kathy Wheeler August 17th, 2011

Karaoke (kar-ee-oh-kee): It’s a noun that means the act of singing along to a music video that comes from the Japanese kara, meaning “empty,” and oke, meaning “orchestra,” according to the Random House Dictionary. That definition doesn’t state if that act is made better or worse by musical ability.

Karaoke is everywhere, but ever wondered how others feel about it? Take Patrick House, for example, an ex-bartender in Edmond. He hates karaoke. As part of his uniform for bartending, he would wear earplugs, totally offending some singers.

“For every one good singer, there are 20 bad,” he said. “Nails down the chalkboard or a cat being murdered: Take your pick.”

Not everyone agrees. “I love hosting karaoke because there is a great variety of people,” said Deborah Draheim, who runs karaoke for Pro Sound Entertainment. “It takes energy and courage, and it’s neat to see them (the singer) overcome that fear. It’s all about the moment of putting themselves out there.”

To understand the karaoke scene, one must participate. On any one night in the metro area, you can find a place to croon to your heart’s content at different venues. Pro Sound supplies music to Dan McGuinness and Louie’s Grill & Bar, while Music Express handles the singing at Henry Hudson’s.

At Baker Street Pub & Grill, Big G Entertainment incorporates a light show for its patrons. Host Jed Williams graces the audience with dance moves to liven up the night. He is infamous for the wild suits he wears; the purple satin shirt he wore on a recent Monday was particularly blinding.

The Baker Street crowd ranges from singers in their early 20s to those in their 50s. Truly, this is a sport for all ages.

Another local karaoke company, Canokie Karaoke, owned by Allan MacDonald, has been operating the songs at Don Quioxte Club for years and hosts an “Oklahoma Idol” competition from the karaoke bar. He also takes his hosting duties on the road as the master of ceremonies at a national karaoke contest held annually in Nevada.

Karaoke isn’t just for the little people. Earlier in the year, Eric Maynor and James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder were seen warbling to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” at a private party held for Thunder season ticket holders. A riveted crowd held up cellphones to capture the moment on video while cheering.

It’s all about the moment of putting themselves out there.
—Deborah Draheim

Karaoke is fun, but a word of warning: Karaoke critics, usually other singers, are tough. People live in a certain comfort zone within their own world of karaoke. Some singers, for example, might sing one trademark song — i.e. Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” — for years, while others gamble with new and different tunes. However, karaoke veterans will tell you those gamblers are probably fairly new to the environment.

For some who grab the mic and sing along to the backing track, the lure of karaoke meets a need for attention, if only for a moment in time. Just ask Stevie Cain. She sings approximately once a week at Nancy’s 57th Street Lighthouse.

“I like the system. I’m very interested in music,” she said.

Her friend Danny McCune likes to sing in the shower, but widens his audience considerably by also singing at Nancy’s and another karaoke stalwart, Cookie’s.

“When I do Alanis Morissette at Cookie’s, (Stevie) has been known to do a dance,” McCune said.

Stevie clarified that it is more “interpretive dancing.”

Today, newer technology has invaded. Fast disappearing are the days where you had to write your name and song-title reference number on a piece of paper to hand to the host. Instead, things are now streamlined: You walk up, introduce yourself, tell the host the song you prefer and he or she enters it into the system, where as many as 40,000 songs reside.

Your turn is next and voilà — for the next three to four minutes, you become the star.

Photo by Shannon Cornman

 
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