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Minnesota sings champions charm crowd, impress judges

Photo by Clay Schuldt The 2022 Minnesota Sings winner in the over 20 category was 23-year-old Donatella Pompeo of Plymouth, Minnesota. Her winning song was “Almost There” from the Princess and the Frog.

NEW ULM — Fifty-five singers from across Minnesota competing over the weekend in Minnesota Sings competition at the State Street Theater.

The singers competed in two different age categories and after narrowing the competition down to 16 singers, eight in each category, two winners were selected. Ashley Wongbi of Lino Lakes won in the 13-20-year-old category and Donatella Pompeo won in the over 20 division.

Wongbi and Pompeo each won $5,000 as well as $1,000 for a charity of their choice, and $500 for their sponsor and recording session.

During the finale Wongbi performed “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo and was able to get the audience to clap along, securing first in the youth division.

Pompeo also gave a standout performance of “Almost There” from the Princess and the Frog. At age 23, Pompeo said she hopes to make a career in music, but is currently a gas station employee. One of the judges assured Pompeo that based on her singing talents should not be at the gas station for long.

Photo by Clay Schuldt Ashley Wongbi of Lino Lakes won the 2022 Minnesota Sings competition in the 13-20 year old division. Wongbi sang ““Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo during the final round of the competition. The young singer had the audience clapping along with her.

The competition’s three judges — Kevin King, Shelia King and Katie O’Regan — conveyed to all the contestants that it was a very difficult choice to select a winner from a wide range of musical styles.

The finale was recorded by New Ulm Cable Television and can be seen on the channel.

This was the ninth annual Minnesota Sings competition. The competition originally began in Hastings and was called Hastings Sings for the first four years, but was expanded to include the entire state.

This was the first time New Ulm hosted the competition. This year’s judges praised the theater, saying the venue was the right size and the right acoustics for the singing competition.

Lead volunteer Chuck Spavin commented that State Street Theater was a great venue for the competition. He also praised the New Ulm community for its performing arts. New Ulm was chosen to host the singing competition for its background in music.

In order to be eligible to compete in Minnesota Sings, vocalists were required to compete in regional competitions. Each regional sent two singers in each division to the finale. New Ulm held its regional competition at State Street Theater on Sept. 9. Lilianna Rindal of Lilydale, Minnesota, Audrey Beranek of Lafayette, Bethany Derrickson of Sleepy Eye and Michael J. Koester of New Ulm represented the New Ulm regional in the finals.

Each of the 55 singers performed on Saturday, with eight being selected to compete in the top 16 semifinal on Sunday evening. Rindal and Derrickson were both selected for the semifinal.

After the second round of singing, eight performers were selected for the final round.

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