Jim Beltz of Fifth Third Bank has always been a singer, and his team knows it. He's always talking about how he sings in church and brings his guitar out camping with his son's Scout troop. He's never quite crossed over into joining a singing group, though, which has kept him from participating in the company's sing-offs for ArtsWave CincySings.
This year, though, Fifth Third decided to try something different. There weren't many challengers for reigning champs, The Fifth Third Banknotes, so the company hosted a Karaoke contest to go hand-in-hand with the sing-off. Beltz's team, having heard many times how much he loves to sing, challenged him to take part. He went to his country roots for inspiration, singing Brooks & Dunn's "Brand New Man" — a fast-paced song that he knew well enough to leave the monitor and wouldn't require him to do too much dancing.
His enthusiasm impressed the judges and he went on to win the Karaoke contest. One of those judges was Steven Sunderman, the executive director of Cincinnati May Festival. After the contest, Sunderman approached Beltz about participating in the May Festival's Community Choir.
The result of their conversation will be seen Sunday night at the May Festival's "Sing Hallelujah" free community concert. Jim Beltz will be one of several performers singing various interpretations of the phrase "Hallelujah." Staying true to the path that's brought him here, Beltz will play a cover of Julianne Hough's hit, "My Hallelujah Song." After his performance, he'll be the glue that holds together a full ensemble — about 200 performers altogether — in a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
"I really just thoroughly enjoy singing," Beltz says, "and if you can't enjoy it, don't do it." Just enjoying singing has now brought him from singing as a hobby, to winning a karaoke contest as part of ArtsWave CincySings and now, to the stage of Music Hall. Who knows where it will take him next?