Here's a copy of the article printed in the The Middlesboro Daily News on February 28, 2007:
New York meets Virginia at Rose Hill Karaoke
By BRANDY L. MURRAY/Staff Writer
ROSE HILL, Va. - Toni and Mike Kowalik are native New Yorkers that found themselves in the rural Rose Hill community in 2003 with little to occupy them. So out of necessity, they invented their own venue of entertainment. Rose Hill Karaoke was born, to the benefit of a young crowd and a sleepy town.Rose Hill Karaoke sits atop a hill on Old Rt. 58 and can be seen from a distance, as it is painted a cheerful hue of yellow, is well-lit and stars adorn the doorway; a preview of the atmosphere inside. An advertising flyer states, “Enter the front door and you are in a club atmosphere with lights of many colors.” The flyer also boasts, “We have a fantastic sound system with a stage and the interior is designed with an array of stars on the walls and floors.” That is no exaggeration, as the music can be heard from the parking lot. On first glance, one might think that Rose Hill Karaoke caters to an older and wilder crowd; but Toni Kowalik stresses that Rose Hill Karaoke is strictly family-oriented. In fact, they do not serve alcohol, do not tolerate drug-use and it is a non-smoking establishment.
Mother and patron Maria Sass spoke of how wholesome the environment is, “This is a place where kids can hang out, this is where my daughter wants to be. They sing and dance, they can play pool or cards or whatever. It's good because the kids can enjoy themselves here and parents can keep an eye on them.”
Sass' daughter Crystal Justice was among the favorites during the karaoke contest on Saturday. Sass says that singing at Rose Hill Karaoke helps her daughter to express herself and become more in-tune, so to speak, with her surroundings.
“When she gets up on stage to sing, it's her way of letting herself out, it helped her to get used to a new place,” she said. The Sass family moved to Virginia from Michigan a couple of years ago and Crystal has been singing ever since.This novel idea has resulted in a medley of people unlike anything you've seen in the area, and has given children and adults alike a chance at wholesome expression. Brothers Josh and Matt Slagle took the stage on Saturday night as true performers with a couple of country songs, prompting such revelry that Rose Hill Karaoke felt more like a venue for well-known performers than a local karaoke spot. In fact, these brothers took first and second place in the contest, walking away with well-deserved trophies.
While most performers chose to sing contemporary country songs, the music library contains old and new country and bluegrass as well as 50's and 60's tunes. For those that can't or don't sing, there's a pool table, video game machines, a dance floor and a card table. Although there is a stocked snack bar, you may want to eat before you go, the featured deep-fried oreo cookies would blow any diet. You can sing your heart out at Rose Hill Karaoke any Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Brandy L. Murray is a Staff Writer for the Daily News.