Kimberly Morlino, a 28-year-old military wife and mother, has been selected by an adoring public as the winner of Rascal Flatts’ Flatts Fest 2011 Karaoke Challenge, sponsored by Starkey and powered by Chartbuster Karaoke and Roland. Her video performance of “Black Velvet,” recorded on June 19 at Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach, Va., just before Rascal Flatts would strum the opening chords of their concert and take the main stage, garnered nearly 15% of the 35,000-plus votes cast in an online poll held on Facebook throughout November. Kimberly’s grand prize win will grant her the opportunity to perform live on stage during a select date on Rascal Flatts’ 2012 tour.
“The karaoke challenge was one of the highlights of our ‘Flatts Fest’ tour this summer. We enjoyed watching the performers and seeing their videos and we welcome Kimberly to open one of our shows next year!” said Gary LeVox, lead singer for Rascal Flatts.
“On behalf of everyone who worked so hard on the Flatts Fest 2011 Karaoke Challenge, I’d like to thank each and every person who so willingly gave their time, effort and support to their candidates during the Facebook voting period,” said Norbert Stovall, CEO of Big Mama Digital Entertainment, Inc. “It was your tireless energy that made the contest such a smashing success, and will help our contestants reach higher and farther than they ever have before
Contest winner Morlino admitted shyly in a phone interview before she learned of her winning entry that she’s “been a nervous wreck” in the days leading up to the announcement. “I’m wearing a brace on my wrist,” she said, referring to the amount of time she’s spent on her computer, making certain she was getting her video entry in front of as many people as possible, and sending thank-you notes to her supporters.
A long-time fan of Rascal Flatts, she said that the summer evening she attended the concert and recorded her video, which won her a preliminary entry into the contest, “…was the best night of my life. It was so amazing getting to meet the band, and getting our lawn seat tickets upgraded so we could watch from up close.” The better vantage point allowed her and three-year-old son Michael an outstanding view of her video performance, which played to the entire crowd on the big-screen display before Rascal Flatts took the stage.
Her love of Rascal Flatts even extends to her relationship with her husband, who serves with the US military. “‘God Bless The Broken Road’ is our song,” she said. They talk as often as they can, but she sometimes struggles with the demanding life of a military wife and mother. “Being a part of the contest has helped me not miss him quite as much.”
This contest is not her first brush with greatness – as a teenager in high school Morlino won a chance to perform as a backing vocalist for Shania Twain at a local concert. She credits that performance with helping her to control her nerves when she performs onstage.
“The whole experience has been amazing,” she said of her journey, which will find her opening for Rascal Flatts on a select date in 2012, as well as recording her own album featuring two original songs, at Big Mama Recording Studios, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
Morlino, whose ringback tone for her cell phone is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, is hopeful that the contest will help spur her talent on to bigger things. “This may give me a chance to really work on my own dreams,” she said. “I believe everything happens for a reason.”