LINKLETTER – The western P.E.I. finals of the public audition stage of Maritime Idol 2014 will take place at the Linkletter Community Centre on Thursday, May 8, beginning at 7 p.m.
Ron Pomerleau, who produces the Maritime Idol contest with his wife, Katherine, has been pleased with the response to the contest over the years.
“The first time we did Westisle, seven years ago, from that school there were 65 contestants, and the school population was only 400, so…” he trailed off, leaving the possibilities to the imagination.
Between four and five thousand contestants have registered across the Maritimes since the contest was initiated.
The audition performers this year include Janna Bridges, Kaitlyn Paugh, Chelsey Wilson, Brianna Ballem, Jenelle Boylan, Katie Geary, Taylor Sonier, Destiny Bradshaw, Dylan Allen, Samantha Rayner, Joselyn Jelley and Kaitlyn McCarville, most of them new to the competition.
Each performed two songs at the three themed events that led up to the final. As long as songs are available in karaoke style, Maritime Idol provides the backing tracks, but some performers choose to provide their own music.
Judging in the three preliminary events has been audience driven, either live or via Internet views of performances posted through the Maritime Idol website, one of the services of the M.I. Group of Businesses. The Stage One final will rely solely on live audience vote to complete the choice of the six performers who will move on to the Stage Two contest against performers from eastern P.E.I. and Charlottetown.
The only male in this year’s session is Dylan Allen, 24. He is currently unemployed from his work doing odd jobs in maintenance and cleaning, but he has interest in the radio or media business. He has been DJ at house parties, hoping to be noticed, and considers the Maritime Idol registration as one part of advancing on his dream “step-by-step”.
“I’m out here, having a good time, showing off my musical abilities. I know I’m not that great of a singer - there are lots of great singers out here - and I am just doing the best I can,” he said.
“I’ve always been a crowd pleaser, always want people to put their eyes on me, and in the spotlight, and everything,” he admitted.
Taylor Sonier, 15, has performed in other contests on P.E.I. and in Halifax, N.S.
She was going to try out for Maritime Idol last year, but didn’t want to contest against her friend, Kendall Paugh, who eventually finished as runner-up.
Though she received a great response from the audience at the “country night” preliminary last week, she is as interested in the experience as the outcome. She has already considered duets with two of the other competitors.
Her father, Allan Sonier, supports her participation for the exposure the performers can get out of it, recognizing that some use the small-venue opportunities to get over nerves.
“Hidden talents are going to come out, for sure,” he predicted.
“It’s more about just enjoying yourself and playing. Everything boils down to that: just play for the fun of it, and may the best one win,” he summarized.
Katie Geary, 16, says her friends encouraged her to enter. She admits she sings a lot – pretty much every day in the shower, around the home, at church – and has performed the national anthem at sports games in Summerside, but she was attracted by the promise of such a fun experience.
Performers pay a small registration fee, but it also entitles them access to an online webcam app to record performances, uploading and downloading access for Mitube.pro and other benefits that may help their aspirations. Pomerleau also noted that no aspiring performer would be left out due to financial difficulties.
The final episode of the four Stage One auditions will decide the six performers to move on to the regionals, based on live audience votes.
Summerside resident Nancy Journeau attended the “country” theme episode last week, as well as a few in the past, appreciative of the efforts made by all performers.
“I’m just really enjoying it. I truly enjoy the talent,” she stated.
The performances for the final audition “Rock” show start at 7 p.m. Entry fee at the door for adults is $7 while student fee is $5.