Katie Ohh singing for a chance at $1M

BELLAIRE – Tonight will be a big night in the Orlofske household on Rock Hill Road.

A large group of close friends will gather around the television to watch Terry and Sherrie’s talented daughter – Katie – compete for a million dollars on NBC’s “The Winner Is.”

Katie, who will turn 23 next week and goes by the name Katie Ohh on the show, is one of six finalists who will compete for the top prize. She earned her spot by blowing by the competition during the show’s initial appearance on June 11. She handily defeated Kirbi Jo Long in her first appearance by singing Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” before knocking the crowd dead with an unbelievable rendition of Faith Hill’s “Breathe” to overwhelmingly beat the Kalama Brothers to sing her way into tonight’s season finale.

The one-hour shows airs on NBC at 9 p.m. from Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Nick Lachey is the host.

The other five finalists are Amy Showalter, The LaFontaines, Sharde Bivans, Senior Sounds of Touch and Leah Grace.

“I’ll be home entertaining approximately 20 friends,” Sherrie explained via telephone Wednesday morning. “We’ve got a group that we go camping with in Myrtle Beach every summer. Katie would always play the guitar and entertain us.”

Sherrie was with her oldest daughter when she captured her spot in the finals.

“I was backstage when the producers came back and told me I needed to come up to the side of the stage for the final round,” she explained. “They told me they would ask me how I thought Katie did. I told them that I wasn’t a TV kind of person and didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

“But, it wasn’t an option,” she continued. “They told me I had to do it. That was my few seconds of fame.”

When her daughter belted out “Breathe” to a standing ovation, her mom didn’t hesitate to boast.

“I knew in my heart that she won it. That was easy for me to say,” she remembered. “I’m the nervous Nellie, but Katie sure didn’t inherit that trait from me. She’s always been so cool. She never shows any nervousness.”

Sherrie said Katie had an audition with “The Voice” but never heard back from the show. She then saw something about “The Winner Is” and sent them a demo tape.

“After a face-to-face audition and a singing audition, Katie was informed that she had been selected,” her mother noted. “She was so happy, and so were we. As a parent, you always hope something big happens for your child. Hopefully, this is it for Katie.”

Katie was born and raised in Powhatan Point and currently resides in Nashville. She fell in love with music after a performance at a Christmas show when she was 12 years old, and credits her mother with harvesting her singing voice.

After graduating college and nursing school, Katie felt like she had abandoned her passion for singing, so she began writing music after her shifts in the Intensive Care Unit. As much as she loves being a nurse, Katie would be thrilled if her appearance on “The Winner Is” catapulted her into a music career.

A brief capsule of the other finalists follows:

Lilsi and Nita LaFontaine are a mother-daughter singing duo. Nita formerly worked as a professional singer and sang many of Whitney Houston’s demos, and Lilsi is still in high school. Lilsi and Nita are planning to use their winnings to take their relatives on the vacation of a lifetime.

Showalter is a high school substitute teacher from Mississippi. She’s always loved singing, but gravitated more toward percussion instruments throughout high school. It wasn’t until her senior year that her love for singing manifested itself, and she realized that she had an incredible voice. With her winnings, Amy would like to renew her wedding vows with her husband and finally have the fancy wedding they didn’t have the first time.

Grace is a phenomenal 10-year-old talent from Kingwood, Tx. She first sang for a crowd in first grade, and some heckling grade school boys almost ended her singing career before it had even started. Luckily, she overcame her stage fright and eventually began singing again for adoring crowds in Texas. She also loves dancing and would like to use her prize money to attend the Houston Performing Arts High School.

Bivans had a rough upbringing, growing up in dangerous neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. Eventually, she found that she could use her passion for music as an anchor to get her through the tough times. She’d like to use her winnings to fund her dream wedding with her fiance, Terrell.

The talented vocalists of Senior Sounds of Touch are all over the age of 55 and have been performing together for 15 years. Hailing from Dayton, Ohio, the Motown quartet has a long history in the music industry, featuring members who wrote songs for the Jackson 5 and started the funk disco band Platypus. If they win the million-dollar prize, they plan to spend the money on their beloved grandchildren.

“The Winner Is” is the only show where singing six songs can win you $1 million. A first of its kind, “The Winner Is” infuses the performance of a singing competition show and the strategy of a game show into one thrilling series.

Each of the six episodes featured a half-a-dozen acts that went head-to-head each week and sing with everything they have for a shot at the grand prize. The aim of the game is simple: contestants must believe in their own performance, edge out their competition and avoid cash temptations to move forward.

Each prior episode consisted of three rounds. In the first round, the contestants were offered $10,000 to leave the game, $25,000 in round two and $50,000 in round three. Resisting these offers and winning over the audience was the only way to win a spot in the finale, where the offers rise dramatically and lead two lucky acts to a final showdown worth $1,000,000.

After each head-to-head matchup, a jury of 101 music lovers votes live on who they feel gave the better performance in the duel. The two vote tallies are revealed on stage, but those results are not immediately revealed. This is where the negotiations begin. The contestants only have a short amount of time to decide whether to take the cash or risk it all to stay in the game and be one step closer to the $1 million grand prize. If they feel they have been outperformed, they should accept the cash offer and leave the game. But if they have the guts, they bet on themselves and stay in the game.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com