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July 9, 2013

Vocal ‘Gut’ Check: This year’s ‘Vocalist’ competition kicks off tonight with special performance by last year’s winner

TERRE HAUTE — The second annual “The Vocalist” competition kicks off at 7 o’clock tonight at the Grandstand in the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a special guest performing  —  last year’s winner, Marcia Cheatham.

She will be debuting her single, “Go With Your Gut,” which she has been working on since she won last year’s competition.

“The song is about a break up,” she said. “It is about a personal experience with a man that promised nothing was going on, but eventually I intercepted a text verifying something was. So, I packed up my truck and U-haul and left.”

This was around three years ago, she said, long before she performed her rendition of the Whitney Houston hit “The Greatest Love of All” at last year’s competition.

Since winning the competition she was featured on a local TV show, “Good Day Live”; sang the national anthem at various locations; and sang with a Chicago jazz band.

Cheatham said she is also working on an album that is taking on a different vibe than her single.

“The album [songs] I am working on — named “Completely” — are Christian and love songs that I wrote,” she said.

With help from Ron Cook, who is co-producer at the Conservatory of Music and FTC Productions Inc., and from Sunshine, Light and Magic Production, Cheatham hopes to finish her album before Christmas.

Initially, all “The Vocalist” contestants submit CDs with sample vocal tracks to the Conservatory of Music, said Michael Newburn, the store’s manager. After the judges determine the top 25 entries, contestants audition live at the store.

From those auditions, the judges will pick the top 10, who will move on in hopes of winning the competition.

This year, the judges consist of vocal teachers Angie Wilson and Ron Maurey, and LouAnn Newburn, a traveling vocal performer, said Cook.

“They are looking for a number of things,” he said. “First is the appearance at the contest, their quality of voice, their dynamics and how they interact with the crowd. It is an overall picture of them as a performer.”

The top three contestants each get prizes through the Conservatory of Music. First place earns 10 hours of recording and mix time resulting in 100 CDs of the finished project. Second place receives six hours of recording and mix times and dubbing of 50 CDs. Third place gets two hours of recording and mix time with 25 CDs being produced.

As 10 more contestants shoot for first place tonight, Cheatham offers advice to the winner.

“Know your material and go for your dreams,” she added. “Ron is here to help as much as he can too.”

• Cheatham’s music can be found at Marcia1sings.bandcamp.com.

The contestants for this year’s “The Vocalist” competition are:

• Patience Gilbert

• Devin Blintzer

• Marita Hughes

• Jeffrey Richardson

• Stevanna Barnett

• Ireland Wetnight

• Gracie Montgomery

• Caleb Southerland

• Richard Goodall

• Tricia Sullivan

Competition starts at 7 p.m. today at the Grandstand at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.

Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and dustyn.fatheree@tribstar.com.

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