Seven talented karaoke singers competed Thursday night as part of , a event benefiting the tornado relief effort in Joplin, MO.
“It was so successful last year that we decided to do it again," said Ellen Gale, executive director of the chamber, before the competition began. The excitement was palpable as guests filed into to witness the event.
Crooners sang a mix of rock, Motown, country and jazz while competing for prizes. A portion of the money raised will go toward Joplin tornado relief, Gale said, though a specific charity had not been determined. Huntleigh McGehee sponsored the event.
Attendees dined on unlimited pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches, cole slaw and salad, and they received two complimentary drinks. Each performer walked through the crowd with a paper bag to collect Joplin donations from fans. Each dollar contributed to a particular singer counted as one vote.
Julie McWilliams, the night's master of ceremonies, introduced each act in rousing fashion. Singers each had two opportunities to perform.
Michael Zerman kicked the evening off and set the bar high with a rendition of The Temptations' Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Zerman, an employee of Weber Shandwick public relations, hasn't had any formal training in the area of singing.
“I felt really good,” Zerman said after his first performance. “But my girlfriend hasn't shown up yet. She signed me up for this. She's not gonna be happy.”
Zerman's second performance, an Eagle's song, was equally strong. But his girlfriend, Melissa Cerwin, missed that performance as well because of a meeting that ran late.
Zerman later was declared the winner of the competition.
“I'm disappointed I missed it,” Cerwin said. “He pretends like he doesn't like singing in public, but he does.”
David Giuntoli, the night's first runner-up, proved to be a dashing and debonair crooner who romanced the crowd with his Sinatra stylings and his rendition of Lady is a Tramp.
“I'm really happy,” Giuntoli said. “I've had a great time. The singers were awesome, and the winner deserved it. He was really good.” Giuntoli works for Buck Consultants in Clayton.
As the winner, Zerman will have the chance to sing Sept. 14 at on Meramec Avenue in Clayton. Additionally, he received a , a one-month membership to and a bottle of Purus Vodka.
First runner-up Giuntoli received a one-month membership to Wellbridge, a bottle of vodka and a $50 gift certificate to .
The remaining contestants were Tim Travis, Gary Feder, Stephanie Wenton, Heather Foraker and Christina Ledbetter.
In all, performers raised $1,163 for Joplin.
Wenton sang I Will Survive as part of the competition.
“This is wonderful,” Wenton said. “It's a great cause. Joplin will survive.”