Rosie Rayburn, pictured bottom right corner, takes a break from recording her favorite Cory Chisel song with her studio band, The Rayburns.
Rockford, IL — In recent years, Karaoke competitions have become a rising success in poorer cities like Rockford, IL. With the popularity of television shows like American Idol and The Voice, bars and Japanese restaurants across the nation have been adding Karaoke to their weekly calendars. Locals drink and sing for each other. It’s a great way to cut loose after a long day of thinking about looking for a job, especially around the Rock River’s Forest City Valley.
“We’ve seen our numbers quadruple on Wednesday nights since we introduced the Karaoke competitions. People love to sing, get drunk and then sing more,” said Tom Comanche, owner of the Reverb on W. State St. in Rockford. He adds, “We never thought in a million years that a voice like Rosie’s would rise to a star level from within our bar.”
On the second week of a newly introduced Karaoke night at the Reverb, a new face turned up amongst the locals. Her name was Rosie Rayburn. A Rockford native, graduate of Harlem High school. Rosie, like everyone else that night, picked a song and threw her name in the hat. When Rosie’s name was called, no one cheered. Most people stepped outside and lit cigarettes. Rosie took the stage with timid confidence, cleared her throat, and waited for her song to start. Not a single person within proximity of the Reverb was prepared for what was to happen next.
The familiar notes of Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man kicked in and heads began to turn towards Rayburn. For once, people were more interested in what was coming out of the girl’s mouth, rather than what could go in it, said local musician— and Rosie’s newest fan, Torrence Weatherspooned. Rosie delivered a vocal performance that was sharper than any arrow in Legolas’ quiver. The room was silent after she drained out the last note, and what started as a single slow clap soon erupted. A near violent explosion of human emotions occurred that night, that can’t be described in a language suitable for this publication. All one can say is that things were different from there on out. Rosie Rayburn raised the bar, literally. No one could follow her that night.
Since the stars aligned at Reverb that night, Rosie has been climbing the Karaoke ladder while winning competitions on local, state and national levels. “I never thought things would go this far,” explained Rosie. “I’ve always been a singer, singing for my pets and family. Listening to old tapes my step-dad gave me and trying to imitate them, but I never thought I would win anything for it!”
Rosie has been able to develop her star singing status at a rather rapid pace due to all the attention she is getting. She has been given opportunities to record in studios with fantastic musicians as a result of her winnings. Part of the higher level competition requirements is the opportunity to record studio versions of other people’s songs.
Rosie has done several. A recording that she likes best is a song from one of her favorite singers, who also happens to be a rising midwestern singer himself, Cory Chisel. “I used to see Cory in Rockford and in the Midwest scene all the time. He is a fantastic singer!” Rosie recorded a rarity of Chisel’s called, Be True To Me. (Listen here, or below.)
“I don’t think the song was ever released, but it was a favorite of mine from the live shows. A simple soul song that just feels right. I was lucky to find some live versions on YouTube to help shape our recording of it. I absolutely love that youtube.com! One time I found a beef pastry recipe tutorial and made a meal for my friends before going to karaoke.”
Rosie looks forward to more singing, but doesn’t expect much of it all in the bigger picture. “I have my heart set on some other goals for life. Singing is fun and music is really neat, but it doesn’t seem sustainable. I plan to complete beauty school, have babies before all my friends do, and enjoy a simple life in Rockford— maybe open a restaurant or something! The music business is just not for me, as she pauses to offer one happier note, but I’ll never stop singing other people’s songs. It’s my life, YOLO!”
AW | Andy Whorehall
UPDATE 09-25-2012: Rosie Rayburn won a large vegetarian pizza party coupon that she can use at any specialty pizza restaurant between Illinois and Minnesota, including Wisconsin. Rayburn took 1st place at the Midwestern Karaoke Quarterfinals in Oshkosh, WI this past weekend. She phoned in her excitement to SockMonkeySound.com, “I can’t believe it! Good things keep happening to me and my band. To be able to break out of the Rockford karaoke contest region is something I could have never dreamt of. I’m going to enjoy the high while it lasts. My band and I are going to celebrate, eat a few veggie pizzas with no onions— I hate onions— and maybe plan out our next victory!”
Andy Whorehall (SM)
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