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Updated: A Guy and A Girl and a victory
“I guess it was all in the bow tie.”
Jesse LeBlanc cracks a joke when asked whether he and his musical partner Kathleen Dunn —collectively, A Guy and A Girl — knew they had a shot at winning the fourth annual Langley Has Talent competition, but the young musicians were left speechless on Saturday night, as they were named the top act and presented with a cheque for $2,500 on stage at Christian Life Assembly.
“When our names were first announced, it felt like time stopped as we looked at each other in disbelief,” said LeBlanc.
“Between the interviews and congratulations from the audience and our friends, we kept exchanging glances with each other, wide eyed, trying to take it all in,” added Dunn.
LeBlanc’s joking reference about his sartorial key to success came after an audience member approached him, following the semifinal competition on March 29, and said he and Dunn were going to win, because he was wearing a bow tie.
So, obviously, he made sure he was wearing one again on Saturday night, when the couple performed an uptempo rendition of The Civil Wars’ From This Valley.
While they’ve only been playing together for the past 16 months — performing at local coffee houses and churches as well as at TWU, where they both go to school — the couple’s musical ability and their sheer joy in performing were not lost on the judges.
Talent agent Jolienne Moore said she could see them still making music together 50 years from now, while musician and clothing designer Leah Emmott commented, “to me, that was perfection.”
“We had such a fun time performing and to hear the judges say such positive things was a huge compliment,” said LeBlanc.
“I was nervous about the judges’ comments, as we had heard them be pretty tough on the other acts before us,” added Dunn. “But when they reacted with such encouraging comments, we certainly felt both shocked and relieved.”
The win offers the couple a perfect jumping off point to one day playing music professionally and maybe going out on tour this summer.
“To start, we are hoping to book some gigs locally, at coffee shops and pubs,” said Dunn.
“As Catholics, our main goal is to bring glory to God and bring people His joy through music,” she added.
In addition to their $2,500 prize, which the couple will likely put toward the purchase of new instruments, LeBlanc and Dunn also received two hours of recording time at Blue Frog studio and a jewelry package as acknowledgement of their first-place finish.
Rock band Quinn and Tonic, meanwhile, put to rest any notion that there is a disadvantage in being the first act to perform in a long competition, taking second place in the contest with an original song titled Howl to the Moon.
The judges praised the band’s lead singer for her rich vocal quality, which Emmott described as sultry, while Moore appreciated the group dynamic and its energy, urging them not to hold back in the future.
Judge Mike Roberds suggested the band was strong enough that they could have been playing in an arena, rather than the sanctuary of CLA.
Second place earned the band a cash prize of $1,500, while Paige McLachlan, a 12-year-old dancer, earned $1,000 prize for her third place finish. She impressed all three judges with the level of emotion she was able to convey through movement.
Two $1,500 scholarships to Kwantlen Polytechnic University were also awarded. They went to rapper Josh G. who performed an Eminem mash-up of Lose Yourself and Not Afraid, and Hailey Bouey, who gave audiences a soulful reprise of the song she sang during semifinals — Change is Gonna Come.
An audience of 600 attended the LHT finals, down slightly from the 700 who filled seats in the Langley church two weeks earlier when 25 acts were narrowed to Saturday’s 13 finalists.
Since the four Rotary Clubs of Langley joined forces to begin presenting the annual Langley Has Talent competition in the spring of 2011, the goal has been to shine a spotlight on talented local performers and, in doing so, make a case for the construction of a dedicated performing arts centre in the community.