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Meet Kara Bertok of Kara Karaoke Entertainment

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kara Bertok.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kara. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started singing karaoke when I was two years old on my grandmother’s 8-Track karaoke machine. You could say I got hooked at a pretty early age. I’ve always loved performing and singing. I was never that kid singing into a hair brush… I had a legit microphone with an orange foam top. While I always loved to sing, after college I worked for various companies in marketing and advertising. At one point, a roommate of mine was looking for a job. She saw a posting for a karaoke bar in NYC (where I lived at the time) that was looking for a karaoke host. So I went to the interview/audition for the job and got it! After working a 50-60 hour work week I would head to this bar after work on Friday night and host karaoke until 4 am or 5 am. I LOVED it! Eventually, I moved to DC and finally Los Angeles where I got back into hosting at a few different bars on the west side. This whole time I was hosting karaoke but working for someone else.

I always wanted to start my own business but I never quite knew what I wanted to do. When I lost my full-time job a couple of years ago I made a list of things I thought I was good at and things I loved to do. They say do what you love… and I love karaoke. That’s when Kara Karaoke began! I love watching people let their inhibitions go and having a blast! I will often sing if I need to get the party started – but you know it’s a really good party if I don’t have to sing at all! It’s just a happy coincidence that my real name is actually KARA,

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I really love where I am right now. When I look back at my life I, of course, have had struggles like anyone else. I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 20 years old. She loved to hear me sing. We had a really special connection to music. I had some vocal issues after she passed and didn’t sing for over a year. Or more like I couldn’t sing. I found out I had nodules on my vocal chords. It would take another year of voice therapy to be able to fully sing again and in a healthy way.

In my career, I felt a responsibility to always work towards raising awareness for breast cancer. I even started producing a fundraiser in New York called Karaoke for a Cure. After a few layoffs, I realized I could work doing something I personally loved and still give back to the community. I now mentor an amazing teenager whose mom is a breast cancer survivor. I still feel grounded in the cause and can continue growing my company professionally.

I continue to learn how to grow my business every day. This is definitely a niche industry I chose. I recognize that. Some months I’m swamped and have gigs every other day and the next month I barely have any gigs at all.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kara Karaoke Entertainment story. Tell us more about the business.
I hope my business is pretty self-explanatory! Kara Karaoke is a mobile karaoke host and DJ. I am hired to provide karaoke for private parties and corporate events. I bring all of the equipment including multiple TV screens for the singer(s) and audience as well as two microphones for duets and group numbers. These parties can range from a 12-year-old’s birthday party to a company retreat. When I host karaoke I’m not just calling people up to a stage to sing I’m hosting the party from start to finish. I’m getting the party started and ensuring every party guest has a blast… even if they don’t want to sing.

I am most proud of the customer satisfaction I’ve received. We all love praise but to hear a 12-year-old tell me I was the best part of her party or a grown man tell me he’s never sung karaoke and he had the time of his life… nothing compares.

I’ve seen a lot of karaoke hosts in action and everyone has their own skill set. I would say what sets me apart is my unnatural obsession with karaoke. I just love it and I think it shows! If I’m not singing along you’ll probably find me dancing on the side of the stage or with the audience. I also don’t take it too seriously. I’m a classically trained singer but I would much rather belt out a Journey power ballad. It’s just about having fun!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Haha. Well, I would say the best luck is my mom naming me Kara and introducing me to music. My grandma was a singer and pulled out that karaoke machine when I was a kid to teach me the fundamentals of performing. What I didn’t realize until later in life is that those silly moments singing to my family and eventually on a stage gave me the confidence to speak in front of a crowd. I still, to this day, get nervous before every gig but I’m able to channel that energy into making sure everyone in the room feels supported whether they’re on the mic or banging a tambourine.

I also have to give a lot of credit to my husband. I actually never wanted to move to LA. I came here when I lost my job in DC and my only sister who lived out here insisted I move nearby. She was pregnant at the time with her first baby. So I moved to LA and in with my sister and her husband… but only for a few weeks since the baby was coming soon and I couldn’t crash in the nursery anymore. I landed in Santa Monica, a month later my niece was born and just two months after that I met my husband. He’s the one who really gave me the confidence to pursue karaoke as a business.

It’s funny how life happens.

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