SIKESTON -- The first of several steps to perform in a regional singing competition which includes a cash prize and recording session begins Friday.
The first open audition for the annual "Grace Reliant Heartland Idol" is at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Osage Center in Cape Girardeau. A second open audition is set for 10 a.m. July 22 at River Radio's location at the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores.
"This year we're changing it up with two open auditions instead of one," said Karley McDaniel, promotions director for Heartland Idol. "Also, instead of letting the contestants know if they move on the day of the audition, we will post the entire list from both open auditions July 24 on the (River Radio) station website, and also it will be announced during the 6 a.m. show on K103."
Open-audition contestants must perform a cappella (without backing music) for the duration of their auditions, McDaniel said. Each contestant will be allowed 60 seconds to perform as timed by an attendant and will be informed when their allotted time has expired.
"The open auditions are free. Those under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian with them," McDaniel said.
Contestants, who must be 14 or older by July 15 to participate, may sing any song they wish, provided it meets the qualifications. The winner must also show proof of age in the form of a valid, state-issued I.D. before claiming any prizes.
"If you're not familiar with the open-audition process, as long as you have read over contest rules and have your ID ready, you should be OK," McDaniel said.
As far as picking songs to perform for the 60-second open audition, McDaniel said it's best contestants stick with what they know.
"Pick something that is comfortable to you but something people relate to," McDaniel advised.
Family and friends of those who are auditioning are encouraged to attend.
"Fan-base yourself," McDaniel said. "Bring out your friends and family. Having them along to cheer you on or hold signs to show their support in the semi-finals or finals increases the fun."
McDaniel noted one singer will move on due to a vote by those in attendance.
"Even if the judges don't pick the contestant you're rooting for, we have a people's choice. The attendees of the event get to vote on who they want to put through," McDaniel said.
Bernie twin brothers Coty and Clinton Walker, who make up Brothers Walker and competed on NBC's singing competition, "The Voice," will judge the open auditions as well as the final competition, according to McDaniel.
"For the semi-finals, we find music-oriented people such as local music teachers and possibly from Southeast Missouri State University's music department," she said
McDaniel said the open auditions are slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the semi-finals will run until each contestant gets to perform two songs.
Contestants who move on from open auditions will be designated to perform at one of three semi-final events which are scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Pulaski County Fair, 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at Port Cape in Cape Girardeau; and Sept. 2 at Benton Neighbor Days in Benton.
Judges will pick three finalists from each semi-final event, and those nine constants will compete for the grand prize Sept. 11 at the SEMO District Fair in Cape Girardeau. The grand prize includes $1,000 and a recording session with Brothers Walker in Bernie.
"It gets better every single year," McDaniel said of the competition, which is also sponsored by Cape River Radio. "We have some who come back who try again and others who are new faces. ... Last year we had 53 qualifiers show up to the Osage Center and by offering two open auctions, we're trying to bring more people out."
For more information or a copy of the contest rules, contact McDaniel at 573-335-8291 or email at email@example.com.