Young and in possession of a good set of pipes? Live in the area? You might be in line to become the next Wellesley Idol winner.
Tryouts are being held for the 13th annual competition on May 27 at 1 p.m. at the Wellesley Community Centre to showcase local talent in the area. The first, second and third place winners will receive prize money for their efforts. A cash prize of $500 will be given to the first-place winner, $300 to the second and $200 for the third. There’s also a $125 prize for the People’s Choice Award.
Contestants must be ages 10-18 and live and/or attend school in the areas of Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmot and Perth East townships. There is an admittance charge of $5 per adult, $2 per youth and $10 per family. All of the money stays within the Idol program.
Participants are evaluated by a panel of judges who give constructive feedback based on their performance. One of these judges is Allister Bradley, a musical artist.
“At its essence, it looks a lot like the Idol television shows that we’ve come to know and love and hate. There’s a panel of judges that will comment after a performance,” said Bradley. “But there’s no Simon Cowell at the table. We’re all very friendly and helpful. We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.”
While they are all constructive critics, there are specific features of performance that they watch out for.
“I look for performers that have an impact on an audience,” he said. “That’s what I got in my head, is imagining an audience reaction to the singer.”
“It opens doors for them in the community, too,” added event organizer Wendy Richardson. “Because we get requests from the Lions Club and the Christmas Tyme Parade for them to sing. So they get a bit of noticeability.”
They are accepting registrations until May 20 at 7 p.m. The competition is divided into three parts: first the tryouts, then the semi-finals on September 11 at the Wellesley Fall Fair, and the finals on September 29 at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.
There has been a waiting list for the past couple of years, says Richardson.
“We usually cut off the number of participants in the competition at 20,” she added. “Those on the waiting list, I let them know first when we have a date for the following year.”
Tryouts are a bit of a process, she explains..
“For the tryouts, they have to do an a cappella song, and that’s only two minutes long, and they have to do one with accompanied music, which is about three minutes long,” said Richardson. “Then they submit the music to our sound man Johnny Sauder. They get narrowed down to six to eight people. I think it really shows the talent that we have in this area. We have a lot from Elmira area as well. St. Clements is a real hub for singing talent. We get a lot from there, and they go far.”
The event can be very taxing to performers.
“It’s not supposed to be stressful, although it’s always going to be singing in front of a crowd and singing in front of the judges,” added Bradley.
“I think the most useful thing to know is that it’s not just a singing contest for prizes. We very much look at this as a mentorship opportunity, as both a celebration of the joy of making music and an opportunity for us to help young singers really get an understanding of what the road might look like if they decided they wanted to pursue this professionally,” said Bradley. “But that’s not a condition of what we do. It’s not just for anybody who wants to be professional, it’s for anybody who just loves the joy of music.”
Last years’ winner was Anastasia Bilodeau from Wellesley. She continues to work with Bradley to further pursue her musical career.
“It’s weekly lessons. But we cover everything from songwriting, to learning guitar, and we eventually get into recording,” he said. “We’re hitting everything, we’re doing music theory, plus we’re doing lyric writing, and I’m incorporating that into her guitar lessons as well. I’m not teaching her guitar, but I’m helping her tie it all together.”
They are also looking for volunteers to shadow at this years’ event. Anyone interested in participating or volunteering can contact Chris at 519-656-2034 or Wendy at 519-656-2961.