I was asked at 2pm in the afternoon if I’d help out at a charity event that night as there was a last-minute panic as a judge couldn’t make. I was told I didn’t really have to ‘do’ anything ….so I said, yes of course, if I can help a mate out and for charity, then sure.
My definition of ‘not having to do anything’ is vastly different from my conspiring friend’s definition. I was whisked away by a taxi not knowing where I was going and no real clue of what was going to unfold during the evening. It transpired that I was a last-minute stand-in judge for the quarter finals of The Karaoke Voice of Suffolk II 2019 Competition! Not the usual Tuesday night shenanigans.
Now in its second event, The Karaoke Voice of Suffolk 2019 held its quarter finals during the week at Westgate Ward Social Club. Again heavily supported by CabSmart who already do loads for the community, the money raised this year is going to The Childrens Appeal at Ipswich Hospital and the local branch Parkinson’s UK.
I was greeting with a room full of friendly people and four red chairs…..this looks serious!
There were top staff from CabSmart who have been organising the event, namely Ian and Shirley, who have been with the company from the start. Compare Steve was lovely and Dave Starr Karaoke is the man making sure the contestants have the songs and sound they need to be their best.
Big Boss Hari was there to support the competition. I had a quick chat with him and he was really looking forward to the night ahead with the good performances to entertain the crowd.
Martin Web (Webby) Tom McCarthy (Are You Ready? Bootyard Bandits) are team judges and it is their job tonight to select two of their team to go through to the final. I was standing in for a team judge who has already chosen his final team.
The quarter finals of the competition is where ten battle duets took place and it was for 2 singers from Team C chosen by Judge Webby and 2 singers from Team D chosen by Judge Tom to go through to the final. The 3rdrunner up from each team is selected by the other judges and the audience gets to pick the 4thrunner up to go through.
Behind the scenes Webby had spent time pairing up the contestants for the battles. He chose the songs and the pairings, based on what he knew and heard in previous rounds. That’s got to be a pretty hard job as if it’s a song a contestant doesn’t know they’d lack confidence and maybe not perform their best and if they don’t get through….who’s to blame? – it’s a lot of pressure for the judge.
While last minute tweaks to the sound is getting sorted the contestants are in The Room of Doom….having to sit waiting to be called on to do battle. The tension is building for the night ahead….with £1,000 for the winner everyone wants to get to the final.
Steve introduced the Judges and we came on and sat in the red chairs….here we go, the battles are about to start….
The contestants only had a couple of hours of rehearsal time to practice with each other – this competition really likes to add the pressure!
First pair come out and I really have no idea what to expect…..it was great! They worked as a team on the song and both were well matched. How on earth is Webby going to make his choice? When the song had finished, Webby passed comment on both acts and made his choice for one to sit on the one of 5 chairs.
First battle done and I’m fully engaged and can’t wait to hear the next pairing. The second battle finished and I get passed the microphone to pass comment. Hopefully I gave good enough comments to encourage the singers, then Tom gives his views. We continued this format for the rest of the night, giving feedback which we hope is taken as constructive. We truly want to encourage everyone.
The choice of songs for the night were pretty spot on, it was wonderful to see the contestants going for it – it’s a serious competition and the singers realised they had to give every performance their all. There were several palpable nerves where we felt for the guys and there were some who looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Webby did a cracking good job of the song choices and the matches. Not only entertaining for the crowd, it helped the performers get out of their comfort zones and sing something more suited to their voices.
The winner of each battle had to sit on one of the 5 chairs and out of those 5 the Team Judge chose his top 2 to go through the final. Then the other judges deliberated and chose the 3rdperson from the chairs to go through. The 2 left on the chairs were then given the opportunity for a sing off – they chose their own song to sing to the audience, and the audience made their choice.
We had a raffle at a quick half time to get a few more pounds in the pot – and the prizes were the most random I’ve seen at any raffle – bus tickets to scuba diving lessons! And I actually won a prize….a drinks voucher at Yates!
The second half of the night Tom gets to select his top 2 from the team battles. The choices were hard as Webby had done an amazing job of the pairings, he had no plans to make it easy for the contestants or the judges.
Emotions ran high all night. They were tears of joy as singers got through to the final and there were tears of bitter disappointment as the singers knew they didn’t perform at their best due to the nerves and others who took the opportunity to go for it and have fun with it.
Out of the contestants who didn’t get through, there was an end of night Wild Card entry to the final by being pulled out of a hat. The chosen singer was clearly delighted!
What a fabulous night I had! Enjoyable on all kinds of levels and a huge well done to everyone. A massive congratulations to all the singers who made it to the final and to the contestants who didn’t make it – it was a very hard fought battle and difficult choices had to be made. A huge thanks to all the helpers and special thanks to the guys who organised everything Ian, Steve, Shirley, Hari and Dave – and many thanks to Webby and Tom for being fair judges.
A final thanks to the audience and all the guys who donated raffle prizes and put money in the pot. 2017 was the last time the event was run and they raised over £3,000 pounds. This year so far, they have raised way over this amount – let’s help them even further and join us for the final of The Karaoke Voice of Suffolk II 2019 is being held on 10thAugust at Ipswich Hotel – see you there!
More photos taken by Anton Kostenko can be found here.