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Fargo Star 2011: Wahpeton singer surges into lead

Fargo Star competition

We've been pleased and a bit surprised at the voting turnout for this year's Fargo Star, mostly because it's been unprecedented, with more votes this year than any of the past seasons - and we still have a few weeks left.

And last week we marveled at how Jordan Thornberg, a North Dakota State University student, earned 1,000 votes to set a one-week Fargo Star record. Well, one week later, we're blown away again as Shalyn Hample has exceeded all kinds of expectations by earning more than 3,000 votes in seven days.

For some context, there have been weeks this year when the total votes for all Fargo Star contestants were just over 3,000.

It's an amazing feat, especially considering Hample didn't really do much to promote herself in this online popularity contest.

Hample, a Wahpeton native who's a freshman at the University of North Dakota, says she hasn't done much more than ask her Facebook friends to vote. Most of the promotional work's been done by others.

"It's kind of a chain reaction," Hample says, a bit surprised at the news of her popularity.

Hample says most of the marketing has been done by her boyfriend, family members and by her college roommate, Alli Hasbargen, who's spread the word to her sorority sisters.

"Every day my (Facebook) wall is pretty busy, people are like 'I voted for you,' sweet, nice," Hample says. "People have been tagging me in their posts. It's up every day. It's pretty funny."

Another friend, Denim Schneider, spread the word about Hample's Fargo Star so much that Facebook warned him he may be considered "annoying or abusive to others," Hample says.

The cutest vote might have come from her grandmother Mavis who doesn't have a computer; she had to drive to a nearby gas station and use their computer to vote for Shalyn.

And the whole thing almost didn't happen. Hample says she didn't even know what Fargo Star was until her cousin, Bryce Hample, convinced her to shoot a video and enter The Forum's annual singing showcase.

Good thing she did as she has to be considered a favorite to win this year's title.

And we'll be watching to see if this next batch of singers can cause another online stir. Here's the group:

* Sunny Bell

* Rob Carter

* Antoine Colley

* Nicole Gumke

* Carrie Lervick

* Alyssa Manning

* Carla McLean

* Steve "Weeble" Miller

* Tristan Teichmeier

* Taylor Wall

* Kevin Widerstrand

Remember, your votes at will determine the 10 singers selected to participate in the Fargo Star finals, held April 16 at The Venue at The Hub.

We'll release another batch of potential stars next Thursday.