Michigan Karaoke Business Gives Everyone a Chance to Try Singing

BIG RAPIDS — Karaoke fans at the Gypsy Nickel Lounge will surely recognize John Kelley’s friendly face as he sits behind an elaborate DJ set.

Born and raised in Grand Rapids and living nearby, Kelley got his musical inspiration from his band-working father and started out as a DJ before getting into karaoke.

“I think I’ve done pretty much every DJ job I can think of,” he says.

His father owned the large sound systems necessary for DJing or karaoke.

“Whenever my friends go to a party, they say, bring your stuff,” he said.

A few years later, business really took off and he took the name “Red Hot Karaoke” and has been in business for thirty years now.

“For a while, I was doing six shows a week. I did it every day except Monday, and I even performed for the kids on Sunday afternoons,” he said.

Kelley’s main source of income is usually weddings, but he DJs and karaokes at everything from board meetings to birthday parties. With the COVID-19 pandemic largely subsiding, Kelley has been surprised by the demand for his services.

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