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My karaoke obsession - Jason Smith

I have what has been deemed, by many who know me, to be an obsession.

I suppose we all have obsessions of one sort or another. For some people, it's a favorite food. For others, it's a sport, or some other type of activity.

My preferred activity, which some have even called an addiction, involves a microphone, a roomful of music fans, and words being lit up on a television screen.

Yes, it's true. I'm a karaoke freak, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

I used to keep this fact about myself rather quiet, but it's become harder to do so in the last few years.

I think my obsession with singing in public began when I was a teenager. I was at a festival near my home in Conyers, and there was a small karaoke booth with a few songs I actually knew. Being a lot more shy then than I am now, it took me a few minutes to get up the courage to put my name in the singing rotation.

Once I got done with my selection - it was one of those sappy, country, love songs - I slowly began to develop this weird craving, to sing at any opportunity I could get.

For the last 15 years or so, that feeling has only gotten stronger.

When I've visited different venues where karaoke is offered, I've found people who want to participate for all kinds of reasons. Some of them know they have no singing ability whatsoever, but just want to have fun with their friends. Others are genuinely talented, but keep such talents largely hidden from the rest of the world.

Then, of course, there are the people who - God bless them - never got the memo telling them they're just not that good. But even for those people, one has to admire the courage it takes to get up and sing in the first place.

For me, karaoke has always served several purposes. For one thing, I've developed friendships over the years with others who share my love of music. I've also, over the years, become much more comfortable in the spotlight than I ever was as a child.

I don't absolutely have to be in the spotlight, but I admit I don't run from it, either. When I don't get to sing on a given Friday night, because I have other things going on, it throws my whole weekend off.

Still, there's something else which always seems to come up, whenever I tell people why I love karaoke. For me, it's always been a form of release at the end of the work week - a chance to unwind and escape from the real world, one song at a time.

Don't get me wrong. I love my job, and I'm happy with the vast majority of aspects of my life. I'm truly blessed.

I just can't resist the urge to start a weekend off, by picking out the perfect song and performing it. It doesn't matter whether there are five people or 50 in the audience.

That's hardly the point, when you're as addicted to the whole process as I am.

I'm sure there will come a time when I won't be able to feed my addiction as regularly as I do now. I have no idea what I'll do with my Friday nights when that time comes.

Until then, I'll keep on singing. After all, I already eat too much, and I was never that good at sports anyway.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.