26 Oct 2004, 04:59:46 PM

Reporter: Paul Makin

According to Bill Masters, the king of Karaoke in Australia, karaoke is the new religion. "We started karaoke on community television, Australia wide in the late nineties, long before SBS started their series." Bill however says the SBS Karaoke competition is good for the whole scene at a time when karaoke is enjoying a huge revival.

'Karaoke is a great therapeutic tool for human beings" says Bill. If Bill is right and karaoke is the new religion, then every local pub is their church with very little trouble finding a congregation. Just like the TV show "Cheers", everyone knows your name at these venues. Pub karaoke is "fly by the seat of your pants" entertainment with no real rules about how to do a singer must be to take part.

David Kenward is such a karaoke addict he started www.where2sing.com <http://www.where2sing.com/> which provides information about 750 odd venues around Australia where the average person can go and sing up a storm.

The "Comp Chasers" as they are known are the cold sober contestants that chase big money on offer at clubs and pubs all over the nation.

David Kenward says "The great thing about karaoke is that you just lob up at the pub and pick your song and sing it. A comp chaser doesn't do that, they practise, they get their look and movements just right, their choreography. It's a different sort of deal. I admire them because they are really good but they are not quite in the social spirit of it."

Bill Masters disagrees "There's hundreds of thousands of dollars involved, they are out there to prove themselves as an entertainer and vocalist."

When it comes to competition chasers, they don't come much better than Johnny Burrows. He's won a heap of competitions and thousands of dollars in prize money. "The reason I'm a comp chaser is I need the money I work for a pittance and I use it as a supplement rather than going on benefits or anything like that."

Now Johnny wouldn't have lived a life that's full or travelled each and every highway but eighty seven year young Papa Frank has. "I'm a self confessed junkie" says Frank "I love to sing .I love to sing till I die."

Franks rendition of 'My Way" made famous by the other Frank goes over big at The Covent Garden Hotel in Sydney's Haymarket every Friday night. 'Franks still going strong" says David Kenward "thanks to Viagra".

Reporter Paul Makin wasn't let off the hook and not allowed to leave the pub until he'd had a go. "I chose the Bee Gees song "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" says Makin who reckons he just got away with the rendition.

  • www.where2sing.com <http://www.where2sing.com/> is David Kenward's web site for karaoke junkies.

  • Bill Masters has a web site: www.ozkaraoke.com.au <http://www.ozkaraoke.com.au/> where you can get information on a new International karaoke competition next year.