The New Queen of Karaoke

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By Verne Vergara A new queen has been crowned. After two rounds of semifinals and a final round on the evening of Nov. 13, the judges of Our Town's Karaoke Idol event picked a winner. All three events took place at the dinner clubs Lips. As the clock approached contest start time at 9:30, the crowd grew and the judges convened: Lee Evans, an award-winning producer; Carol Henning, a performer from Tandava Arts; and Paula Liscio, an opera singer and vocal coach. Nicole Ortiz launched the competition with a soulful rendition of "I'm Every Woman," but it was her second number, "I Will Always Love You," that gave goosebumps to everyone and earned her a standing ovation. Host Blackie O put it well, saying, "I feel as though Whitney Houston rose from the grave, put clothes on and performed for us tonight." Claudio Lake looked stunning and festive in his finale outfit, complete with matching blue hair and pants, but the judges felt that his song choices weren't the best. Our BBBBBD (Big Beautiful Black Broadway Bound Diva) Natalie Randall thrilled the house with her first number, "I Love You I Do," but her second performance was marred by a technical glitch that prevented her from seeing the lyrics. She was comforted by the judges' comments that she handled the mishap like a pro. Thinking out of the pop-and-rock box, Maggie De Silva sang Barbra Streisand's "Don't Rain on My Parade" and a country ballad from Faith Hill, "Like We Never Loved at All." When complimented by the judges on how glamorous she looked, Maggie replied she was trying to keep up with Blackie O. Later, Blackie O pointed out to her that it was no competition because what we were seeing in her own case was a result of tons of make-up and having to shave all over. To which Maggie (an RG, or real girl, in drag-queen parlance) wittily replied, "I do the same thing, too." That brought raucous laughter from the audience. Despite the dramatic ending to his second song "So Amazing" by Luther Vandross, the judges lamented that the Mike Vocalz that wowed them in the first preliminary just wasn't there that night. Lauren Abrami brought sexy to the contest with her almost X-rated performance of "Bad Romance," with the mic stand sometimes doubling as a stripper pole. It was her rendition of Pink's "Nobody Knows" that was most impressive, as she tackled the wide octave range of the song with ease. The judges took a long time to deliberate, explaining that "blood is at stake." Ultimately, Nicole Ortiz won the title of Karaoke Idol and $1,000. A very close second was runner-up Lauren Abrami, who won $500. Both get recording studio time as well. With the winners & the other finalists still onstage, flanked by all of the Lips performers, Blackie O concluded Karaoke Idol 2012. So much fun, excitement and enjoyment was had by everyone, nobody was ready to leave.

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