Union Democrat staff

An Arnold woman who won a national karaoke contest last month at Black Oak Casino hopes to compete next week at the Karaoke World Championships in Finland.

Kim Evans said early this morning that her trip remained in limbo, however, as the karaoke contest organizer had yet to give her details of her departure.

Evans, a 49-year-old mother of four, earned a spot to represent the United States at the largest international karaoke competition in the world.

The 10th annual Karaoke World Championships will showcase "the world's best amateur singers" from Nov. 21 to 24 at a resort in Lappeenranta, Finland.

"For me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said. "It would be an honor to be able to represent my country."

In Finland, Evans plans to compete against 31 other female singers from countries around the world. She plans to sing songs by pop singer Christina Aguilera and country star Reba McEntire.

"We are the only two people representing the U.S.," she said, referring to herself and the male winner, Carter Thomas, of Arkansas.

The pair were among 50 singers who competed in the national finals last month at Black Oak Casino, following preliminary rounds spanning several months across the country. The prize for winning the national competition was the trip to the world championships in Finland.

Karaoke queen

Evans, who relocated from Pleasanton in 1992, got into the karaoke scene after attending her first karaoke show in Arnold.

"I moved up here and I didn't know anybody," she said.

At the encouragement of those who heard her sing, she began entering and winning karaoke contests. Her first major contest was in 1994 at the Mother Lode Fair in Sonora.

Eventually, Evans "stopped competing because it was very nerve-wracking," she said.

Following a lengthy break, Evans started competing again when she entered a karaoke contest held at a Modesto bowling alley in 2010.

Since then, she's been singing in contests from Las Vegas to Cincinnati to Dallas.

She even earned a spot at this year's nationals, which happened to be held close to home at Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne.

While she had plenty of friends and family there to cheer her on, Evans was concerned because she didn't feel well.

"When I won it I was just in complete and utter shock because I had a cold and I felt I didn't do as well as I could," she said. "But what the judges want most is for you to put on a good show. That's my strength - my performance. My stage presence has always been pretty strong."

The songs she sang were the country tune "Better Dig Two" by The Band Perry, "Stay" by pop singer Rihanna, and a classic power ballad called "I Who Have Nothing."

Evans was back at Black Oak Casino earlier this week and sang the National Anthem during a Veterans Day ceremony.

"She's definitely an outstanding vocalist who combines great vocals with an elegant stage presence," said Al O'Brien, the casino's marketing and entertainment manager.

Karaoke isn't just a hobby for Evans - it's also her livelihood. She's a K.J., or karaoke jockey, and has owned a karaoke business for 13 years.

Under the name Sweet Harmony Entertainment, Evans now plays weddings, parties and other events.

She also puts on karaoke shows throughout the foothills. Those include every Thursday night at Loruccio's, the Italian restaurant attached to the Nugget bar in Murphys. On Saturday, she has a gig at the Old Corner Saloon in Copperopolis.

Evans has four children, ranging from an 11-year-old daughter to a 26-year-old daughter who sometimes performs with her.

Her oldest daughter is pregnant and due at the end of the month.

"If I go to Finland, I'll be back three days before her due date, so hopefully the baby doesn't come early," she said.