How 2 singers from Hamilton karaoke bar Tracie's Place became national champs

When the 2018 Karaoke World Champions (KWC) gets underway in Finland in December, Canada will be represented — by two singers from the same small karaoke bar in Hamilton.

Hamilton residents Christine Costa and Dustin Jodway have sung their way into the KWC – the largest and most prestigious international amateur singing contest in the world. They won the duet category at the nationals held in Calgary in early September.

"It's an honour really to be chosen among so many competitors, and so many of these people have amazing talent," Costa told CBC Hamilton.

"It's huge for both of us to go from not placing at nationals to placing first out of everyone and going to Finland to represent Canada in the worlds," Jodway said.

The best singers from up to 40 countries compete every year for world championship titles and Costa and Jodway are hoping to bring the crown home for Canada.

Jodway says he has been doing karaoke since he was allowed to enter bars but got into the KWC three years ago, when the event was held in Canada for the first time in Vancouver.

Desmond Brown/CBC

Costa, meanwhile, says she has been singing all her life but got involved in karaoke over the last few years.

"I tell people it's kind of like running, because then you want to get better, you want to get faster, you want to do more. There are really great songs out there and you want to just push yourself to do more," said Costa who also won best female solo at the nationals.

"This year, Dustin and I said 'hey why don't we do duets' and things kind of took off, created a life of it's own. Singing with someone else is like a whole other level I find, it's so much fun."

The duo performed three songs in Calgary:

  • Don't you wanna stay – Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean
  • The elephant love medleyMoulin Rouge
  • The time of my lifeDirty Dancing

Pro tip: don't sing Hallelujah

So what's the secret to succeeding at karaoke and why has Hamilton done so well nationally?

Both Jodway and Costa said the key is being unique.

"You don't want to do songs that the judges are going to hear a million times, because they'll just get bored of it," Jodway said.

"A lot of people sing Halleluja, it's a beautiful song but it's also overdone," Costa said.

They say a big part of Hamilton's success at karaoke is the bars that keep the tradition alive.

"I lived in Toronto for a number of years and I sought out, on a Friday night you just want to go sing a few songs and I couldn't find places," Costa said.

"But as soon as I looked out a little more this way there's tonnes of places."

Desmond Brown/CBC

Tracie's Place is one such place where karaoke is done seven nights per week.

"I would say Hamilton does have a big community of karaoke," Costa said.

At the Nationals, Costa and Jodway were joined in the winners' circle by Calgary's Sean Britton who was crowned the men's champion. 

Costa and Jodway get a free trip to Finland in December for the Karaoke World Championships. The world champion wins a $10,000 US prize and will be invited back to perform next year.

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