Like many single parents, Bonita Ferus had to make a choice between the love of her child and her passion for singing. It's no surprise that singing took a temporary backseat to her daughter, Hannah. Now Ferus, a talented and accomplished singer who works in the Institute for Public Health/Emerging Infections Program at the UNM Health Sciences Center, looks to feel the thrill of performing in front of a live audience as a contestant in the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest Saturday, Feb. 5.

"As a single parent I started working full-time to make a good childhood for my daughter and this has been my priority for several years and singing has taken a back seat for the most part," said Ferus. "I have so enjoyed raising my daughter and as she got older, I tried to get out more to sing, which is my other joy in my life.

"It is not easy to juggle many things, as any single parent knows, but I think it is so important to maintain your own interests if possible since parenting can be so consuming," she added.

Fellow staff, faculty and students can potentially help Ferus' perform in front of larger crowds someday by voting for her online during the week of Feb. 5-8 following her preliminary round Saturday.

By visiting, http://www.santaanastarsearch.com/ anyone, whether they attend the show or not, can vote for Ferus. Online votes are one of three categories that will be used to determine a winner. The other two categories include judges' scorecards and the live performance. The contestants who emerge victorious will compete in the finals on Saturday, March 12.

Ferus has been singing part-time since she was a child in Massachusetts. Later, she started singing in local clubs around the suburbs of Boston. She left the east coast for the west coast, Seattle in particular, where she sang in a Country Rock/ R&B; band called the MB McGovern Project. From there she formed a band with Michael Martin where she enjoyed great popularity in the Seattle Scene singing "Torch, R&B;, Jazz, and Blues."
After arriving in Albuquerque she sang folk music through 2008 and released a CD titled, "Waiting for You," and also a Christmas CD titled, "Voice of the Heart."

Due to illness, Ferus entered the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest at the 11th hour last December. She sang the folk song, "Close Your Eyes," by James Taylor for the audition, and is performing an old Torch love song written by Gary White and made famous by Linda Ronstadt titled, "Long, Long Time."

"I entered the competition last December by going to the last live audition possible because I was sick with the flu for almost the entire Christmas Break and couldn't put an electronic audition together," Ferus said. "I am proud to represent UNM/HSC in this competition and feel honored to be in really good company in this show since there is so much great talent."

Her eclectic repertoire of jazz, R&B;, blues, folk, standards, funk, gospel and pop have been some of her favorites, yet her versatility allows her to sing any song that allows her to express her feelings. Ferus, who sings with a depth of comprehension, artistry and passion that few singers can even approach, has been described as "the greatest torch singer on the planet" by the Seattle Weekly.

Ferus has also performed at the HSC Concerts in the Plaza Summer Concert Series and at the UNM Faculty & Staff Club. She competed in one show in Seattle and her second was last May in a fundraising talent show at Popejoy Hall for the UNM-HSC Center for Life.
"After all the clubs, what a thrill it was to sing in such a big music hall," she added.

In addition to singing, Ferus also teaches voice lessons part-time. She studied voice for about a year in Seattle with George Peckham, who also taught Judy Collins. For more information on Ferus' voice lessons visit: http://bonitaferus.com/index.html.

To listen to a song by Ferus visit: http://www.santaanastarsearch.com/contestant/bonita-ferus.

The next step in the contest will be live performances by the 27 preliminary contestants, who will be broken down into three groups of nine that will perform on three separate dates, Feb. 5, Feb. 12 and Feb. 26, at Santa Ana Star Center.

Tickets are on sale for $5 and can be purchased at the casino, which is the cheapest way (no service charge) or at the website, http://www.santaanastarsearch.com/. Streaming live footage of the competition will also be available on their website for those who want to watch but are unable to attend the show.

Ferus has worked at UNM since 1999 and is currently an Administrator in the Institute for Public Health/Emerging Infections Program.

"I have worked with some truly great people who have taught me so much about teamwork, integrity and making a difference in the lives of people all across the state."

Additional information about the Santa Ana Star Search can also be found on Facebook at, http://www.facebook.com/santaanastarsearch and also, http://www.santaanastarsearch.com/.