SGLS seeks contestants for Downriver Idol title

Photo by Evelyn Cairns

Photo by Evelyn Cairns

Volunteers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Downriver/Dearborn Light the Night walk display awards they received from the organization during a recent thank you luncheon at the Hard Rock Café. From left are Karen Ranka, Maureen Fernandez, Barbara Holbeck, Sandy Bettinger and Lenaya Burchfield. All are from Grosse Ile, with the exception of Fernandez, who lives in Riverview. The local walk, held in Wyandotte, and other events raised $63,000 of the Michigan LLS Chapter’s projected total of nearly $554,000.

The Southern Great Lakes Symphony is seeking singers to compete in its first Downriver Idol contest and has scheduled three auditions for next month.

They will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Best Western Woodhaven (Karaoke Night), 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 9 in the Grosse Ile Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, and 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Allen Park Presbyterian Church.

The competition is not affiliated with “American Idol,” SGLS president Mari Frost was quick to point out, but will provide an opportunity to discover Down-river talent, she said.

Rather than suffering through Simon Cowell’s ex-tremely harsh criticism, the contestants will be judged by SGLS staff members offering positive and con-structive feedback, Frost said.

“We are looking for the best singer,” she said. “You don’t have to be classically trained, but it helps to show your personality and let your unique identity translate through the music.”

The rules state that contestants must be at least 18 years old or have permission to participate from a parent or guardian. Preregistration on the SGL Web site ( and a $5 fee are required.

Participants can provide their own accompanists or sing a cappella, or with karaoke, which will be available at the Best Western audition site. Pianos will be provided at the churches.

The auditions will be limited to three minutes in the contestant’s choice of opera, art song, pop, rock, country, jazz, blues or other types of music.

Semifinalists will sing before an audience of ap-proximately 500 at the Flat Rock Community Audito-rium on Feb 5. Three finalists will perform at the Feb. 21 SGLS concert at the auditorium, with the winner to be chosen by the audience.

Additional information is available by calling the SGLS at (734) 246-2890 or visiting the website.

Lunch honors fund-raisers
Volunteers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Soci-ety’s Downriver/ Dearborn Light the Night Walk were honored at a luncheon recently by the organization for raising $63,000.

Among the honorees at the event, held at the Hard Rock Café in Detroit, were Downriver/Dearborn walk cochairman and LLS board member Karen Ranka and committee members Barbara Holbeck, Sandy Bettinger and Lenaya Burchfield, all of Grosse Ile, and Maureen Fernandez of Riverview.

Holbeck and Burchfield were among volunteers awarded plaques and “Bright Lights” club T-shirts for individually raising $1,000, each, while other volun-teers were presented with LLS logo tote bags.

According to Norb Promo of the LLS, the local walk, which was held in Wyandotte, surpassed its goal of $56,000 by $7,000, noting that it was a re-markable accomplishment considering today’s economy.

As part of the organization’s annual drive for funds, the Burlington Coat Factory of Taylor raised $12,000 in contributions from shoppers who donated $1 or more and signed their names on paper balloons that were displayed in the store through November.

The Taylor store exceeded its goal of $5,524 by 296 percent, ranking it second among the company’s outlets in the state and first in Southeastern Michigan. Burlington stores in the state raised a total of $88,000 for the LLS.

Walks and other fund-raisers this year raised a projected total of $554,000 for the society’s fight against blood cancers, Promo said.

A highlight of the luncheon was a drawing for a $3,000 Caribbean cruise for which the society volun-teers had sold tickets. The winner was Marta Merchak of Southgate.

Coming up . . .
Now through Jan. 3 —“The Glancy Trains Show,” featuring operating Lionel and American Flyer O-, S- and G-Gauge toy trains and newly installed N-Scale trains; at the Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Wood-ward at Kirby; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Jan. 1; no admission charge; for more information, call (313) 833-1805 or visit