Sarnia Sings will sound a conservative note this year.
That’s because one of the 17 performers at the May 2 fundraiser will be Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu, as staunch a Conservative as you’ll find.
Turns out, Gladu’s talents include an ability to sing — along with a penchant for tunes from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Event organizer Adam Dumond makes carpool karaoke videos to promote Sarnia Sings. In one with Gladu, she belted out everything from Heart’s Magic Man to Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks, and Taylor Swift’s 22.
The video has been viewed nearly 4,000 times on Sarnia Sings’ Facebook page since April 3, says Dumond.
“I thought she’d be popular in the carpool and I was right.”
Dumond invited Gladu to do carpool karaoke – a device he stole from late night talk show host James Corden – after she came recommended by Dave Burrows, master of ceremonies for Sarnia Sings.
“When I asked, she immediately agreed. It was an easy yes,” he said.
In fact, few have said no since Dumond launched Sarnia Sings three years ago with help from the Sarnia Community Foundation. It’s been a runaway success, selling out the past two years.
The idea came to Dumond after singing karaoke during a work conference with Royal LePage in Las Vegas.
“I had so much fun,” he said. “I thought others would have a good time too and we could raise money for mental health and suicide prevention.”
Each year, Dumond gathers a group of local singers to build the show around. Some have experience singing in a band. Some are really good at karaoke but have seldom been on stage. A few are sponsors and add what Dumond calls “the personality.”
They might not be the best singers but they are entertaining, he said.
He hires Toronto-based band “Rock Star Live,” which comes with its own backup singers and specializes in cover songs.
Participants choose their song and perform with the band on the Imperial Theatre stage. Scattered throughout the evening, local people impacted by mental health share their perspective.
Sarnia Sings raised $16,000 its first year, just over $20,000 last year and should surpass that this year.
It’s so popular, more than 100 people applied to sing this year and sponsors are calling Dumond, rather than the other way around.
“We are just ecstatic,” he said. “We’re definitely on to something.”
Neither the show nor the carpool karaoke promos are rehearsed.
Dumond admits he didn’t know if the MP could carry a tune.
“One of the most nerve wracking moments is when I put them in the car and see what happens. Marilyn was a huge surprise. I thought right away, ‘This is awesome. This is a home run.’”
He’s keeping the other performers under wraps and won’t say what song Gladu is singing.
“The audience really likes that surprise element,” he said.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Sarnia Sings, showcasing local singers and helping charities that focus on mental health and suicide prevention.
WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 168 Christina St.
WHEN: Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $25, available at www.imperialtheatre.net or the box office.
The Arts Journal reflects Sarnia’s rich cultural life. Send your ideas to [email protected].