12 chosen to perform at Stampede Talent Showcase

Singers will have their chance in the spotlight after showing they have the right stuff to perform in front of thousands.

Michelle-Laine performs a rousing song for attendees of the Ponoka Stampede talent show Wednesday

Singers will have their chance in the spotlight after showing they have the right stuff to perform in front of thousands.

A total of 13 performers (two sang as a duet) were chosen to show they have what it takes at this year’s Ponoka Stampede talent showcase Wednesday, June 29.

To get to this point, close to 50 aspiring professional singers strutted their stuff Tuesday, May 24 and 25 at the Stagecoach Saloon at the Ponoka Stampede talent show. The top singers were chosen from a panel of three judges.

The winner of that showcase will have the chance at a custom made guitar from Gilmore Guitars in Red Deer or a recording session with MCC Recording Studio in Calgary. Whatever the first place singer decides on, the second place winner gets the other prize, explained Keith Kjenner of the Ponoka Stampede Association.

Started by Don and Althea Lewis 30 years ago, the talent show gave performers a chance to shine. It has been a useful stepping stone for some memorable performers, explained Kjenner. Brett Kissel, Amy Metcalfe, Shane Yellowbird, Adam Gregory, Stacie Roper with Hey Romeo and Gord Bamford, to name a few.

Kjenner suggests this is an ideal showcase to hone one’s skills.

For judges David Gilmore of Gilmore Guitars, Jessica Hoy of CKGY radio and Glen Chidlow of Ponoka, picking the best ones to move forward is a tough challenge.

“The level of talent that comes out each year. It’s pretty consistently good,” said Gilmore. “When we end up with those final 10 (12 this year) it’s really a difficult choice.”

Hoy is always impressed with the strength of performers and their confidence. She noticed several young singers under 10 and said they were able to get on stage and do a strong performance.

Tips for aspiring artists: “Come back year after year,” says Hoy.

She feels the more experience the better for performers who maybe didn’t quite make the cut this year. Gilmore added that there were several performers who are on the verge of breaking that barrier that takes them to the next level.

Chidlow suggests these talent showcases are a big change for someone used to performing in front of friends or in the shower, he joked. What makes or breaks a performance is song choice, voice tonal quality and pitch, all paramount to a strong performance.

“The overall package of the overall performance,” explained Chidlow.

He suggests working with a band, something that happens at the showcase, creates another challenge and performers need to show they have what it takes.

“And the microphone is an instrument,” added Chidlow. “You have to play the microphone in accordance with your voice.”

One performance of the evening came from Qian Meng, who rather than singing a country song, chose to showcase her vocal abilities with an Italian opera aria. It took everyone, including the judges, by surprise.

“I don’t think we can ignore that performance,” stated Gilmore.

Performers chosen for the showcase are as follows:

* Falen Nelson

* Gizelle de Guzman

* Josie Bryant

* Taylor Pilgrim

* Taya and Nikale van der Vlis

* Alex Dion

* Qian Meng

* Preston Cave

* Jaret Matthews

* Michelle-Laine

* David Vold

* Devin Cooper


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