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Ozarks Got Singers 2012: Big prizes, new location

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Many people know Joe Beavers as the area's "Elvis," but the entertainer also has a "Colonel Parker" side to him, as he promotes and manages Ozarks Got Singers. The American Idol-style singing competition was a big hit in 2010, and Beavers is scrambling to launch Ozarks Got Singers 2012, on Thursday, March 15 at a new venue in Horseshoe Bend's Diamond B Mall. Photo by Richard Irby [Order this photo]
In 2010, as the popularity of American Idol raged, Joe Beavers said, "Hey, we've got tons of great musicians around here. Why not put them in the spotlight?"

After selling the Hillhigh Resort in Horseshoe Bend on his idea, Ozarks Got Singers was born. Dozens of musicians signed up for a 14 week competition, and more than 100 people packed into the resort's second floor night club each week to watch and listen. The event was a hit, and 17 year old country crooner Waylon Collins emerged as the winner.

Two years later, Beavers is scrambling to get a second edition of Ozarks Got Singers -- this one with a $5,000 grand prize -- off the ground.

"I've decided to open the Beavers Music Hall in the Diamond B Mall, and that is where Ozarks Got Singers will be held," Beavers said.

"Now, all I've got to do is put in lighting and a sound system, a concession stand and other improvements over the next two weeks," Beavers added with a laugh.

That's right. Ozarks Got Singers is scheduled to kick off on Thursday, March 15.

Beavers has been promoting the competition since last fall and, thanks to a $5,000 grand prize and other prizes, singers from as far away as Jonesboro, Jacksonville, Searcy and Branson have signed up.

Beavers is shooting for 80 to 100 contestants, and still looking for singers. "I've been seeing a new flurry of interest as the competition gets closer," Beavers told The News. "I think singers from around the area have been holding off, but are finally coming around."

Beavers admits signing up to compete is a big decision, since the entry fee is $50. But he feels the pay off is worth it. Besides $5,000 for the winner, other competitors will receive prizes and recognition including two fully-mastered songs recorded at Lake Paradise Studios in Cherokee Village, a custom made guitar, a seven day stay at the Crown Point Resort, plus weekly cash awards and airplay on Beavers' Ozarks Got Singers radio show, Saturday mornings on KSAR Radio.

"We're going to have some great competition over the 14 weeks, and excitement will build as finalists start emerging from the pack," Beavers said.There have been twists and turns as Beavers planned the 2012 competition.

His original plan was to hold Ozarks Got Singers at the Cedar Glade Resort and Hotel, where he worked as General Manager.

Beavers planned to build a stage and viewing area in the lobby of the former Hillhigh resort. The space would be larger than the upstairs nightclub, and eliminate the inconvenience and dangers of having to climb stairs to view the competition.

When the resort's new owners decided to put off the lobby make-over, Beavers inquired about holding the competition in the Music in the Mountains Theater in Horseshoe Bend's Diamond B Mall. Because the organizers of the monthly music show were not receptive to that idea, Beavers decided to lease the unoccupied space next door to the theater and open his own music hall.

"I have been wanting to open a music venue for a while now, and decided now was the time," Beavers said. "I've got 3,500 square feet to work with, so there is room for a nice stage and seating for 150 people or more. It will be a great space for Ozarks Got Singers, all on ground level with lots of nearby parking."

As Beavers recently drove to Mississippi to pick up 176 chairs he had purchased for his theater, he was asked why he was putting himself through the time consuming, expensive job of doing Ozarks Got Singers again.

"I've been in a lot of music contests over the years and they haven't always been on the up and up," Beavers said. "I like the idea of running a fair competition to give some notice to up and coming singers, and I like doing something that will bring people to Horseshoe Bend. I like this city and think it has a lot of potential."

In addition to Ozarks Got Singers, Beavers intends to operate his music hall every Saturday, except the third Saturday of the month, when Music in the Mountains takes place. He will also offer karaoke and other music and entertainment events during the week.

"The weeknight events will be aimed at entertaining people who are staying at the Crown Point Resort, but will also be open to anyone else who wants to come in," Beavers said.

Beavers has tried to kick the addiction many times, but he has been hooked on music since childhood, and performed for years in rock and roll, soul and country bands in the Memphis area, where he grew up.

Because he always got great audience response to his versions of Elvis songs, Beavers eventually became an Elvis impersonator or, as they say today, an Elvis Tribute Artist. He has won many Elvis competitions, and performed all over the country, including Las Vegas.

After years of visiting Horseshoe Bend, Beavers moved there full time in 2008.

On Jan. 23, Beavers was in Little Rock to appear on KATV's "Good Morning Arkansas" program. While he sang two songs in his "full-Elvis" attire, his mission was to promote Ozarks Got Singers in central Arkansas.

This year's O-G-S shows will begin at 7 p.m. at the Beavers Music Hall. About 10 contestants will perform each week, doing two songs each.

Admission to the public will be $5, but members of the audience will also win prizes, as drawings will be held during each show.

Horseshoe Health and Medicine is the title sponsor of the event. Other sponsors are the Horseshoe Bend Gun Shop, Reeves Propane, AZ Printing and Signs and the Pacesetting Times.

"We're going to have a lot of fun and offer a lot of rewards, so I hope singers will continue signing up," Beavers said. Contestants can sign up online at ozarksgotsingers.com or request entry forms by contacting Beavers at 870-373-3876 or via e-mail at joebeavers@centurylink.net.

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