Peterson relying on experience for win in major karaoke contest

T’keyah Peterson expresses her passion of singing through karaoke. Photo special to the Outlook

T’keyah Peterson expresses her passion of singing through karaoke.
Photo special to the Outlook

By James Foster
Outlook writer

The front seat of her car is perfect for T’keyah Peterson to begin belting out a tune.

In the shower is fine, too. Peterson simply likes to sing – on stage or with a karaoke microphone.
So much so that she is the best karaoke singer in Florida. On Sept. 21, she will begin a three-day bid to prove she is the best in the nation with a berth to compete in Canada on the line.

She likes her chances because it’s what the 22-year-old has been doing for more than half of her life.
“I’m always singing and writing and working on new things,” she said. “I’m always playing the piano and the guitar. I sing in the car (and) I do a lot of things creatively to make sure I’m well practiced.”
Traditionally, karaoke singers do it as a way to let go and have fun; usually in night clubs or restaurants. But not Peterson, who said she has been in competitions for karaoke since the eighth grade.

Peterson is going to Seattle by virtue of winning a state-level karaoke competition last month. Obviously she will be facing the biggest field of competitors she’s ever seen, but she relishes the challenge.

“I’m actually pretty excited,” she said. “I’ve been singing for a long time everywhere and I’m pretty much an amateur.”

With that comes some anxiety.

“I’m really excited and ready to just do it,” Peterson said.

Even though singing karaoke style means offering a personal rendition of an original recording, Peterson approaches each song with passion as if it’s hers.

“I’ve done quite a few competitions and I learned that the more diverse and the more you have fun is all you need as well as being passionate about what you do,” she said. “I love to sing and I want to make it a career one day and I’m really working hard for it to happen.”

Keith Rogers, MC and comedian for the adult talent show Tallahassee Nights Live, has seen several of Peterson’s performances. She’s as good with a karaoke mic as she is fronting a live band, he said.
Rogers said he was especially impressed with the way Peterson takes command of a performance – whether with a band or just singing to tracks.

“It’s more pressure to sing your own music, but you have to meet the bar of an original song compared to singing your own song,” Rogers said. “She was 16 years old when I saw her first performance and she is a wonderful singer. She is a great performer and she can rock a crowd.”

While Peterson does karaoke and performs songs with live bands with ease, both styles require an immense focus, she said. However, Peterson said singing with a live band could be a little difficult than singing to recorded tracks.

“With a track, it’s easier because you’re able to practice with it,” she said. “With a live band you have a certain chemistry and if you don’t it sounds like jumble.”

Representing Florida brings a little pressure but not to the point that it dampens Peterson’s optimism about bringing the top prize home.

“I get a lot of support from both sides of my family and my husband,” she said. “I’m very optimistic and excited about going up there and performing.”

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