I was one of those Karaoke scoffers, having only seen snippets of it in movies and TV, where the singers are often portrayed as drunks. But when Karaoke recently made its Greenbelt debut – at the New Deal Cafe – I had an open mind.
Turns out, it’s one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on! At least it is with a great KJ (Karaoke Jockey, I’ve learned), and the New Deal hired one of the best – Kelley Hildebrand of Rising Star Karaoke.
I wasn’t the only one who was clearly loving it, though. The full crowd of surprisingly musical and confident performers were ALL IN.
Here’s how it works. People sign up on Kelley’s roster of singers, naming the song they’ve chosen to sing from Kelley’s Songbook of nearly 100,000 songs. On the rare occasion that someone requests a song she doesn’t have the music for, she’ll check to see if it’s available on Karaoke and buy it for the next time. “Songs cost an average of $2-$3 each so I don’t buy every single song that comes out,” she wrote to tell me.
When the music starts, singers can then read the words on a large screen if they don’t already know the words.
Kelley is scheduled to KJ again at the New Deal next Tuesday, March 21 and again Tuesday April 18. Come out and discover your inner ham, or at least your inner fan.
Here are just a few of the full roster of singers performing that night, identified if I happen to know their names (leave a comment if you can ID the others).
Rachel Zirkin Duda
This group of friends (and baby, too) all knew the words AND dance moves for the songs they performed.
It was a wildly fun night, capped off with the entire audience singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
I noticed some new faces in the crowd and asked Kelley if they were her regular followers. She actually knew just eight people there, including a former coworker who happens to live in Greenbelt, and all the other faces were new to her.
“What I enjoyed about the New Deal is that the people who came were there specifically for karaoke.” (At other gigs people may be there unknowing.) “I am very excited to do shows at the Cafe because of the incredible support for artists and performers. It’s set up to appreciate entertainers and what is karaoke if not entertaining?”
So who IS this wild woman of the mic? A mortgage consultant with SunTrust Mortgage in Bowie by day, performer by night. And I was wowed by her singing and presence on stage.
Kelley has been singing since middle school, in “every singing group I could get into while in school,” including all-county choir and school musicals. After college she spent a season with the Baltimore Symphony Choir.
She writes, “Later, I was introduced to Karaoke and I was hooked. Being in a high-pressure sales job is stressful and singing became my outlet to shake off the work week. I love the entertainment aspect of karaoke and always have a good time.”
So three years ago she bought her own equipment and started doing her own shows. She performs regularly at the All American Steakhouse in Severn, The Hideaway in Odenton and at The Szechuan Inn in Severna Park.