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Published February 23 2012

Morast: Catching up with the first five Fargo Stars

In the world of Fargo Star, Saturday night will be all about the future as we crown the next champion of The Forum’s annual vocal showcase.

But all this talk about the next Fargo Star has me a bit nostalgic about the past; particularly the people who’ve been voted Fargo Star in the past years.

So in a tribute as much as a way to update what these terrific singers are doing these days here’s a look at our first five Fargo Stars and how they’re still making music.

Kallie Frost

Fargo Star 2007

Hometown: Moorhead

The first ever Fargo Star, Frost is still the youngest to win the title – she was 15 at the time.

Fortunately for us, music wasn’t just a passing teenage fancy for Frost. She’s still singing these days; in the bluegrass and variety band Pick it Up Pilgrim, and on Sundays at her Church Triumph West.

Still, Fargo Star’s lasting impact on Frost might be that it turned her on to the power and appeal of social media. The Minnesota State University Moorhead student says the ways she used Facebook and YouTube to promote herself during and after Fargo Star turned her on to the power of media.

“I am now pursuing a degree in Mass Communications, specifically Public Relations, and I am hoping to find a career where I can use some of the social media skills I’ve learned,” she says. “As a bonus it would be pretty cool to land something in the music business.”

Eric Piela

Fargo Star 2008

Hometown: Mandan, N.D.

Piela didn’t turn his stylish run in Fargo Star (his take of Usher’s “Yeah” is still the Fargo Star performance that got the most people dancing in The Venue) into a music career. But Piela is using his musical gifts in his gig as a Digital Marketing Strategist at Flint Communications in Fargo. He says he’s written some music for various Flint clients – though, those jingles or musical treatments haven’t hit the airwaves, yet.

Piela’s also singing on the worship team at Hope Lutheran Church and does some work on the “wedding singer circuit.”

Oddly, Piela might also be the only person in the world who can claim he once got a 3 percent “Fargo Star discount” at a local restaurant.

“Oh, the perks,” he says.

Lissa Meyer

Fargo Star 2009

Hometown: Fargo

Meyer is still singing in front of audiences, and still winning their approval. Last year she was the victor at the annual Teamster’s Make-A-Wish karaoke contest (a big deal in the Fargo-Moorhead karaoke circuit). She’s hoping the winning trend continues as she’s eyeing a victory in this year’s WE Fest Karaoke Roundup.

It’s not all contests for Meyer. She still sings karaoke for fun. She’s also a member of the Fargo-Moorhead Master Chorale.

And, yes, Meyer still does get recognized as a Fargo Star – sometimes through her own doing.

“One time as a joke I mailed a friend a crumpled-up napkin with coffee stains on it; I had kissed it to leave a lipstick imprint and signed it, ‘Lissa, THE FARGO STAR, love ya babe,’ ” Meyer says. “I told her if she sells it on eBay to make sure to not take less than 25 cents for it, so it’s all in good fun.”

Brett Pauly

Fargo Star 2010

Hometown: Wahpeton, N.D.

As we’ve written about in the past, Pauly’s biggest win wasn’t the Fargo Star crown he won at The Hub that April night. Later on, after the contest was over, Fargo Star’s country king met the woman he eventually married. Yeah, we’re still taking credit for that love connection here at Fargo Star Headquarters.

Pauly’s also making music the traditional way. Six months ago he joined the local cover band Fat Daddys as its new lead singer. It’s not coincidence the group has taken more of a country emphasis since he joined the ranks.

“I enjoy the hell out of it,” Pauly says.

As for the Fargo Star legacy, he says it makes for some good between-song banter during Fat Daddy’s concerts.

Speaking of that, the Fat Daddy’s will be performing tonight at the Cadillac Ranch in The Hub. Sounds like a good warm-up for Saturday’s Fargo Star.

Jenna Oestreich

Fargo Star 2011

Hometown: Colfax, N.D.

Still our reigning Fargo Star, Oestreich is one of those singers who didn’t give up after her first year in Fargo Star didn’t end with her in the winner’s spotlight.

Like Meyer, Oestreich followed up a turn in the Fargo Star finals by winning the entire thing the next year.

She’s still singing karaoke here and there and tried out for “American Idol” last year, but if you really want to hear Oestreich sing you can check her out during Saturday’s Fargo Star finals. She’ll part of our four-judge panel and will sing Lady Gaga’s “You and I” before we announce this year’s winner.

Hopefully the next Fargo Star sings as well as she does.

Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518

or rmorast@forumcomm.com