Vocalists croon for prize money in 'Chattanooga's Voice' competition

Vocalists croon for prize money in 'Chattanooga's Voice' competition

May 20th, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Christian Guerra, Thomas West, and Beth Ireland, from left, wait in the wings at the Chattanooga Theatre Center Sunday for their chance to audition for Chattanooga's Voice, a singing competition where area vocalists compete for $1,000 and the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a Chattanooga Lookouts game. 10 finalists will be selected from the auditions to compete at a gala on May 23, and proceeds from the gala will benefit the Chattanooga Theater Center.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Jackie Ramsey warms up in a rehearsal room at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on Sunday before auditioning for Chattanooga's Voice, a singing competition.

Jackie Ramsey warms up in a rehearsal room...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

TOP 10

Jeff Anderson

Joseph Brooks

Chelsea Crosby

Lisa Gates

Christian Guerra

Daniel Hawkins

Jacquelin Ramsey

Courtney Reid

Thomas West

Walter White

A 19-year-old girl walked out of the room Sunday afternoon, and in walked a man, big and sturdy and bald. Mark Luckett approached the judges' table and handed one of them a head shot and paper with his identification on it.

"How tall are you?" asked Jermaine Purifory, one of three judges for "Chattanooga's Voice."

"I'm six-eight on my better days," Luckett said.

He walked across the room inside the Chattanooga Theatre Centre to the black "X" taped on the wood floor and stood in front of a gray curtain, below a hanging microphone, facing a video camera, a pair of studio lights and three judges.

"Tell us something about you," said Purifory, a singer who has appeared on "American Idol," "The Sing-Off" and "Glee."

"I've been singing for a long time," said Luckett, 40. "I play a bunch of instruments. I've been out of work for about a year. I'm here for that $1,000."

To get the money, Luckett would need to beat 52 other people auditioning for Chattanooga's Voice. By the end of Sunday, Purifory, local musician Hayley Graham and Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Susan Pierce would pick 10 people to perform Thursday night at a Chattanooga Theatre Centre fundraiser.

One winner will get $1,000, a studio demo recording session and the chance to sing the national anthem at a Chattanooga Lookouts game next Sunday.

Most of the competitors were in their late teens or 20's. Some came Sunday because they want to make it big, and this competition could be just the break they needed.

Luckett understands the industry because he's been in the thick of it. On Sunday, he sang "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. In a competition like this, he said, you want to pick something familiar.

Luckett opened for Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw in the late 1990s, back when he aspired to fame. He used to play lead guitar for a group called In Yo Face.

They were based in Dallas and toured the country in a van. But Luckett was married, and life on the road was unhealthy for a family. So he returned to Dalton, Ga., went to school and got a job with Tai Ping Carpets.

About three hours after his audition Sunday, Luckett waited for the results along with the other competitors.

The judges came in. Everyone should be proud, they said. Decisions were tough. Then they read off the names, one by one.

And one by one, Luckett heard others' names called, until there were no openings left. Soon after, he said, a judge told him he would be an alternate, just in case one of the 10 performers couldn't make it.

"It was fun," he said. "You know."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.