Laramie resident Caitlyn Walker will compete this August against seven others for fame, glory and $10,000 in this year’s The Vocalist contest, hosted in Afton.
Having grown up in Star Valley in Lincoln County, Walker was destined to shine bright. According to her profile on The Vocalist website, Walker sang for her high school and later for the University of Wyoming where she attended college.
“I came (to UW) on a singing scholarship,” Walker said. She added that she studied music education to become a choir teacher. But after moving to Laramie, she met and married her husband and shortly after became pregnant with her son.
Walker never stopped singing and since the birth of her 19-month-old, has sung lullabies almost every day.
She hadn’t heard of The Vocalist despite having lived near Afton where the contest was established six years ago. She learned of the competition through her aunt — who lives in Star Valley — and was encouraged to audition. At first, Walker was hesitant and unsure it was a good idea, stating she hadn’t performed for a live audience in four years.
But after talking with her family, Walker decided to audition.
“It’s good to do scary things … things that make you uncomfortable,” her husband said.
Likewise, Walker’s father reminded her that her dreams and aspirations didn’t end when she became a mom.
“It’s important to know that you’re a mom, but you’re also Cait,” she recalled her father telling her.
Setting aside her inhibitions, Walker prepared herself for audition.
Walker plans to perform singer/songwriter songs, which imbeds itself in the tradition of acoustic music. Though she didn’t disclose the songs she has picked out for competition, Walker is sure of her choice of genre, stating her voice is different to how those songs are normally performed.
“I’m pretty nervous, but I’m excited to get back onto the stage,” Walker said, “It’ll be good … to get out of my comfort zone and say ‘yes’ to something scary.”
When asked what she would do if she won the competition, Walker said pay for diapers and medical school.
“My husband is going to medical school in the fall,” Walker said, and she is due to have her second baby shortly before the competition.
She added that she would like to do more with her singing, but her family is what’s most important to her now, and in the future.
ABOUT THE COMPETITIONDuring the first two weeks of May, potential contestant submitted an audio file of them singing a song, which was then apprehended and judged by a committee of previous winners of the competing, as well as this year’s judges.
“The judges never saw any information on any of the contestants: they don’t know how old they [are] or where they’re from — they don’t know anything about them except their voice,” Duke Dance, SVI general manager, host and organizer of the event in Star Valley, said.
Audio files were loaded through the site platform from all corners of the country, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Florida,” Dance said.
“It was literally coast to coast,” he added, stating the number of auditions received was a significant number to sift through.
Only eight contestants — Walker included — were chosen to compete. After the first round, four will be disqualified. The entire competition takes place in two major rounds to ensure the event doesn’t carry on for too long.
“We found that if we do any more contestants than eight, the show gets kind of long,” Dance said.
The Vocalist was born on the Fourth of July out of a media event through the radio newspaper in Star Valley. At its inception, The Vocalist started out as a very small karaoke event that awarded $500 to a winner.
Over the years it grew and has come to be the main concert event at the Lincoln County fair, Dance said.
“We never expected it to be this big,” he said, “Now we have a $10,000 prize and people auditioning from literally all over the country.”
The judges tend to be a mix of past contestant winners and guest celebrities; this year, Dance said he was able to secure David Archuleta — American singer-songwriter known for his performance in the during the 2008 American Idols LIVE! Tour.
“Around year four, I wanted to bring in a big-name judge,” Dance said, to add a “Wow” factor to The Voice.
He added it was a shot in the dark and that they are excited to have Archuleta join The Voice panel and perform a small concert for Afton.
“We’re stoked … it’s a huge deal to have him come and perform in a little town in Wyoming,” Dance said.