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'Special since day one': Sooner Theatre to host Voice of the Heartlands Finals Gala

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Sooner Theatre (copy)

The Sooner Theater, photographed here in 2017, will host the singing competition Voice of the Heartland on Thursday, Sept. 23.

The Sooner Theatre is hosting the finals for the singing competition Voice of the Heartland on Sept. 23. 

This year marks the seventh year of the competition, held to benefit the Studio of the Sooner Theatre. Last year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19, said Jennifer Baker, executive director of the Sooner Theatre. The finals begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23.

“We are really looking forward to being back in person this year,” Baker said. “We are fortunate to be in a large space so people can spread out (and) thankful for high ceilings and great ventilation.”

The competition consists of a semi-final and a final round, according to the Voice of the Heartland website. This year, 31 competitors were selected by a panel of judges from video auditions to perform at Semi-Finals. 

This year's judges are Jill Reamer Donovan, founder and creator of Rustic Cuff; Jennifer Leigh from Magic 104; Cindy Scarberry, director of the Rodeo Opry; and Lucas Ross from Freedom 43’s Rise and Shine

The top ten contestants, selected by the judges, will advance to finals, Baker said. She said Finals is a fun evening, including a meal provided by Hal Smith Restaurant Group, a large supporter of the event. 

“The Wise Guys Band will play and we have a fantastic raffle and silent auction,” Baker said. “Plus, the audience gets to vote for the winner.”

The winner receives $1,000 in addition to the Voice of the Heartland title. 

All proceeds will benefit the Studio of the Sooner Theatre, according to the Voice of the Heartland’s website. Baker said proceeds further arts education and opportunities for all. 

“This event will make scholarships available to many youth in our community,” Baker said.  “People may not realize this, but we gave back over $48,000 in scholarships last year. This community is hungry for quality arts education.”

The Finals Gala will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23 at the Southwind Hills Event Barn. Tickets are available here, or people may call 405 321-9600. 

“This event has been special since day one,” Baker said. “(Young artists) need the chance to explore their talents, to find their people, to find their voice. And that’s what they do here at the Sooner Theatre.”

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