WE Fest Karaoke Roundup makes dreams come true
For several years now, the WE Fest Karaoke Roundup has given aspiring singers a unique opportunity to open for some of the biggest acts in country music during the annual WE Fest country music festival.
On Thursday night, Lorie Streeter of Le Sueur, Minn., was the latest singer to get that chance. As the third place finisher in the grand finals of the 2008 Karaoke Roundup competition, Streeter opened for Thursday night's headliner, Rascal Flatts.
"I didn't think there was any way I would place (in the top three), but I told everyone that if I did, I wanted to open for Rascal Flatts -- so I got exactly what I wanted," said Streeter Thursday, just minutes before she was scheduled to take the WE Fest stage.
Streeter and her family also had the opportunity to meet the band prior to the show, and "I gave my demo CD to Gary LeVox (lead singer of Rascal Flatts)," she said excitedly.
Though she entered the Karaoke Roundup for the first time this year, Streeter is no stranger to the music scene.
"I had a six-piece band and traveled with them for a long time," she said. "I've opened for Marty Stuart, Collin Raye, and Neal McCoy (the latter also performed at WE Fest Thursday)."
But all that was nine years ago, before Streeter gave birth to her son.
"It's the first time in nine years I've done anything with my music," she said. "I stopped when my son was born, and this is my first year back."
As such, she wasn't expecting to get too far when she took part in the local competition at Mully's on Madison in Mankato, Minn. But she did.
"I made it to the top 10 of the southern Minnesota state finals," Streeter said.
That was enough to get her into the grand finale competition in Hinckley, Minn., on May 31. She placed third -- which meant that she would be performing on the opening day of WE Fest (the second and first place finishers, Dustin Weiss and Aimee Lauren, performed on Friday and Saturday).
Prior to taking the stage, Streeter said, "I'm not nervous. I'm excited for my son to be able to see me do this. This is an unbelievable opportunity they give to us (contest winners) -- I've never sung in front of this many people before."
Streeter, a bit on the shy side, admitted that she felt more comfortable on stage than down amongst the crowd in the concert bowl.
"I feel much safer on stage," she said. "Hopefully it comes across that way on stage."
What makes Streeter's return to the concert stage all the more remarkable is the fact that she was diagnosed with lupus last year.
"It's my hope that I'm going to inspire somebody who maybe doesn't feel so good all the time that they can still do whatever they put their heart and mind to," she said. "It's about living out your dreams."
So now that one dream is accomplished, what's next?
"I think I'm going to go out for Nashville Star (the reality TV singing competition) next," she said, noting that experienced performers such as herself had to "get creative" when it came to getting national exposure.
"Country fans really are open to all kinds of performers," she added.