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Local singer bound for L.A. to audition for NBC show
March 24 benefit concert at Summerville Store will help raise money for Monica Cook’s travel expenses
Patrons of the Summerville Store have been buzzing with excitement ever since an employee, Monica Cook, was officially invited to a second audition in Los Angeles on April 1 for the third season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
To raise the funds to get her there, a benefit concert has been organized by her employer, Sherry Rogers, at the Summerville Store from 3 to 8 p.m. March 24.
The public is invited to attend the benefit concert and enjoy some country and blues music sung by Cook.
There will also be baked goods for sale, including cupcakes and slices of Cook’s cheesecake. Cook said that donations will be greatly appreciated and should be given to Rogers.
“Everyone’s invited to the concert,” said Cook. “There will be good food and good music here.”
Cook and her boyfriend, Don Paul, plan to leave on a flight to Los Angeles the Friday just before the audition, which takes place at 2 p.m. April 1.
“This is my first plane ride and the farthest I’ve ever been away from home,” said Cook, “but my boyfriend has traveled a lot, so he’s coming along to help me get around L.A.”
Cook, 34, was raised in rural La Grande, the daughter of Russell Farris of Summerville and Cindy Gulzow of La Grande.
Her daughter, Darien Wise, 14, is also a big part of her support team, she said.
“If this audition becomes a bigger issue,” said Cook, “I’ll take my daughter after that.”
Cook is an alto with a three-octave range who loves to sing a lot of old country and blues music, she said.
Her favorite music includes songs by Patsy Cline and the Judds as well as newer artists like Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum.
Her singing history traces back to about age 3, and it has continued through her school years.
Although very shy then, she found her stride when she was about 16 years old, and she has since been singing for weddings, funerals and at karaoke events.
“I also participated in a singing contest for Country Music Television and won second place,” said Cook. “The audition for that was in Everett, Wash., in 2011.”
Now she sings with Sherry Rogers’ Willow Creek Band at the group’s open jam sessions held at the Summerville Store at 8 p.m. the last Saturday of each month.
“The band has been playing since 1997,” said Rogers, “and I play the accordion and sing. We have at least four members, including Cook, and sometimes as many as seven depending on who joins us.”
Cook said that her jamming friends and those who believed in her encouraged her to submit her first singing demo CD to “The Voice.”
“I saw ‘The Voice’ on television and last year I made a demo CD and mailed it in,” said Cook. “I didn’t hear anything back, but I got an email from the (official) NBC ‘The Voice’ website inviting me to audition again.”
Cook learned that her odds of passing this audition increase if she shows up to do it in person, so she started to make her plans.
“I have to go to L.A. for this audition,” she said. “I didn’t go last year because I didn’t have the money. But I have a lot of people who support me, so that’s very cool.”
She added, “People who believe in me have already donated $1,100 toward my trip to L.A. It’s unbelievable. I want to cry.”
For Cook, this is the greatest honor she has yet experienced in her singing career. If she passes this audition and they like her, she will be contacted within one to five days of the audition and asked to come back.
She is still thinking about a song for this next audition.
“I was thinking about maybe singing ‘American Honey’ by Lady Antebellum for my audition,” she said. “I think that would be a good one.”
Cook’s singing experiences and jamming sessions with her music family here in Summerville have given her the confidence to face whatever may be asked of her at the audition in Los Angeles.
“I’ll try my best at whatever is thrown to me,” said Cook. “I’m good at winging it. If I can put us on the map, I’ll do it.”