If you’ve been listening to CBC Radio lately, or if you follow the websites or social media of Island musical artists, you’ve probably been hearing a great deal about CBC’s Searchlight contest over the past several weeks.
Since March 24, musicians all over the country have been competing in this now-annual online contest in the hunt for Canada’s best new artist.
And what an impressive field of Island musical acts it has been within this year’s competition. Because Searchlight is, in a sense, all about the one song — one song submitted by each artist for the entirety of the contest, as the public votes for their favourite artists as the voting rounds roll on — the contest seems to open up the playing field to welcome in those new artists that may not have a wealth of material, but who might have that one song that’s right on the money, and that can win over the ears of those who are listening. In this way, the contest features a compelling lineup of well-established artists slotted right alongside less experienced up-and-comers, letting the music simply speak (or sing) for itself.
As Searchlight 2014 is now in its fourth week, we are now into the round of top 10 regional finalists, as, through until April 21, the public is voting to determine these regional finalists in 24 different regions across Canada.
And, making the Island proud, in the top 10 for P.E.I. are: Drea MacDonald, Dennis Ellsworth, Katie McGarry, Dylan Menzie, Lennie Gallant, Brian J. Dunn, The Elusive Kings, Ashley Condon, Irish Mythen and Jordan Cameron.
“I am delighted to be included in the top 10 on PEI,” said Condon, who is just coming out of a successful ECMW and the earning of six 2014 Music P.E.I. Award nominations this past winter. “I am alongside some wonderful company as well,” she added.
She’s not the only one who is delighted.
“I plan to use this contest to gain a new foothold in the ‘getting your name out there’ game, and I’m trying my best to do it,” said MacDonald, who was also already in the midst of an exciting year before this Searchlight success, as she was this year’s recipient of the Lynn Grishko Bursary Award at the 2014 Music P.E.I. Awards.
MacDonald noted that this free promotion by CBC helps artists to access new fans who may not otherwise take the opportunity to listen to their music.
CBC Mainstreet’s host Karen Mair echoed a similar sentiment about the promotional boost that is being given to artists that can especially benefit from it.
“I’m thrilled that Searchlight doubled its entries on P.E.I.,” she says.
“Whether contestants win or lose they’ll be getting more attention from CBC 2 and 3 which are dedicated to indie music.”
Mair went on to note that last year’s contest really helped to kick start the careers of Island national finalists, Amy and Rachel Beck, who were unknown to many before the contest began.
“That’s what I love about Searchlight: it celebrates the diversity and breadth of Canadian indie music,” she added. On the national level, CBC is also enthusiastic about the number of artists across Canada involved in this year’s contest.
“Over 4000 bands entered Searchlight across the whole country, which is huge,” said Lindsay Michael, associate producer with CBC Music and member of the national Searchlight team, “and the level of music is really high.” She also commented on how exciting it is to see the various acts discovering each other’s music and cross promoting through the contest.
“It certainly is indeed an exciting time for these 10 P.E.I. musical acts, as they are doing their best to seek the votes they need before this current voting round closes this coming Monday.”
To check out all of our Island Top Ten Regional Finalists in CBC Searchlight 2014 and vote for your favourites, visit http://music.cbc.ca/#/Searchlight Next week: I will tell you all about Crows Fly To Cannes, as we congratulate and support Island filmmakers Harmony Wagner and Jason Rogerson at The Guild tomorrow night.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
AT A GLANCE
- The Schooner Sessions with Cynthia MacLeod and Friends – Old Triangle Pub, today at 7 p.m. An informal acoustic traditional music session where players and dancers are welcome to join in.
- Choral Music on a Holy Day – Trinity United Church, Charlottetown, tomorrow at 7 p.m. Featuring The Confederation Singers, guest soloists Kelsea McLean, Suzanne Campbell, Michael Vandergaag, Justin Simard, and Nova Scotia Symphony members.
- Crows Fly To Cannes – The Guild, tomorrow at 9 p.m. A fundraiser to help support Island filmmakers Harmony Wagner and Jason Rogerson in their journey to the Cannes Film Festival with their Cannes 2014 film, Queen of the Crows. Event will feature music by Mitch Schurman, Got Blues, Lady Soul and The Love Junkies.
- Record Store Day – Back Alley Music, Saturday from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Featuring performances by The Meds, Al Tuck, Emilee Sorrey, Peter Forbes and more with a sidewalk barbecue and cake.
- Art Battle – P.E.I. Brewing Company, Saturday at 7 p.m.
- CopyCat/Classic Vinyl Presents: Crossroads – A Tribute to Bon Jovi - Hunter’s Ale House, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.
- Family Earth Expo – Farm Centre, Charlottetown, Easter Monday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.