Fifteen competitors battled it out Saturday night at the Metropolitan in San Andreas, but only six were chosen to move on to the Karaoke World Championships (KWC) state finals in Anaheim.
“We had a packed house,” said Kimberly Annand, Team Metropolitan coach and 2013 Women’s U.S. Karaoke National Champion and third-place World Champion. “When I announced the winners, it made me emotional because I was watching them perform for the last four months, and I watched them grow.”
The first-place winner of the evening, 43-year-old Thomas Hein, said he had to overcome his stagefright to take the title with his rendition of “Jailhouse Rock,” despite many years of singing karaoke.
“It was nerve wracking,” said Hein, who sang on Good Day Sacramento after winning the first qualifier at the Met in April. “Singing on TV is easier than onstage because you don’t see eyes looking at you.”
For Hein, karaoke is a family affair. His wife, Ronnell, won third place at the July 13 event with “Why Haven’t I Heard from You” by Reba McEntire. The two met at a karaoke competition 20 years ago in San Jose. After winning first place at that event, Hein took second-place winner Ronnell on his prize trip to Cancun.
Ronnell Hein, 43, who describes herself as more of an extrovert than her husband, said she has an “out-of-body experience” each time she takes the stage.
“I get up there and have nerves for about 10 seconds,” she said. “When the music starts I always forget the first word until I say it, then everything else kicks in. When I get offstage, I don’t remember a thing.”
Now settled in Arnold, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter, Linda, has also gotten into the pastime.
“She got the bug,” Ronnell Hein said. “It’s helped her read better.”
The Heins have a lot of praise for Annand and her karaoke company, Sweet Harmony Entertainment, which hosted the competition at the Met as the only KWC venue in Northern California.
“Pretty much wherever Kim and Sweet Harmony is at is where we go. She has a family-friendly way of doing things and is always at the top of her game. It’s easy to want to join her contest because she makes it inviting,” Thomas Hein said. “She and the Met doing what they did, none of this would have been possible. They brought a cool thing to this area, and I’m glad they did.”
The Heins and Team Metropolitan will be headed to 99 Bottles and Cocktails in Anaheim on July 28 to compete against four other California teams.
The KWC national finals will be held in Las Vegas on Aug. 18-21, and the world finals will take place in Tokyo this fall.
On July 16, the team will appear again on Good Day Sacramento, when Annand and second-place winner Rob Bryon of Murphys will perform on the air.