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RichCity Idol will be a ‘highlight of their lives’

This year’s crop of RichCity Idol competitors include Carlos Vidanes (Steveston-London), Carol-Lynn Gee (McRoberts), Chris Yan (McMath), Jessica Wong (Burnett), Jiana Gonzales (Richmond), Kamaira LeBlanc (Boyd), Kavya Balajepalli (Cambie), Kennedy Williams (MacNeill), Maria Encarnacion (McNair) and Suani Rincon (Palmer).  - Terry Che
This year’s crop of RichCity Idol competitors include Carlos Vidanes (Steveston-London), Carol-Lynn Gee (McRoberts), Chris Yan (McMath), Jessica Wong (Burnett), Jiana Gonzales (Richmond), Kamaira LeBlanc (Boyd), Kavya Balajepalli (Cambie), Kennedy Williams (MacNeill), Maria Encarnacion (McNair) and Suani Rincon (Palmer).
— image credit: Terry Che

Teachers, mentors and coaches have relentlessly told their disciples you get what you give.

For 10 Richmond high school students this Thursday night, the same is true. They’ll be at Gateway Theatre, attempting to suppress the stress of singing in front of the biggest crowd they’ve likely ever faced.

Natasha Jung, executive producer and co-creator of this 11th annual evening known as RichCity Idol, has similar advice for the teenaged singers—you get what you put into it.

“Put in the time and dedicated effort and you’ll see great results,” she said. “Use RichCity Idol as an opportunity of a lifetime to perfect your craft, grow as a person and create lasting friendships through music.”

The show is a tribute to the young talent in Richmond. On stage is one top singer from each public high school in the district. Behind the scenes are dedicated student volunteers Jung helps guide along the way.

The fact RichCity Idol has outlasted the TV talent show it mirrors—Canadian Idol—is a testament to its longevity. Canadian Idol ended in 2008 after six seasons.

“We’ve survived long after Canadian Idol ceased production because the opportunities we provide are still relevant to students and to the Richmond community,” said Jung. “For organizers and singers alike, being involved in RichCity Idol is an opportunity to connect with fellow students and be part of something bigger that we hope they look back on as a highlight of their lives.”

As Canadian Idol helped propel numerous singers to stardom—Carly Rae Jepsen and Jacob Hoggard come to mind—RichCity Idol gives participants valuable experience in singing, competing and developing leadership skills.

This year’s event will feature past idol personalities behind the judges’ table. Recording artist Paige Morgan is a 2006 RichCity Idol winner, and radio personality Andrew Sosa is a former host.

RichCity Idol is one night, but the lead-up to May 29 is much longer. Organizers are chosen at the beginning of the school year, and are required to go through an interview process. From there, lead producers build their team by picking applicants from across the district. Then comes the ideas, plans and schedules—and the event comes to life.

“The amount of organization that is required is immense. It’s like the students are running their own business or have another full-time job on top of school,” said Jung.

Idols are made after being chosen through a singing competition at their local high school. Working with a rehearsal manager, the idols hone their talents and select group songs. Choreographers are brought in to show the singers some moves, and professional vocal coaches and other performers help develop their talents.

RichCity Idol aims to develop confidence and a strong work ethic in the singers, said Jung,  while giving them a creative outlet that also creates long-lasting friendships.

Said Jung: “At the end of the day, we want to make sure the idols have opportunities to grow as singers and as people.”

RichCity Idol 2014

•7 p.m. Thursday, May 29 on Gateway Theatre’s MainStage

•General admission tickets are $12 in advance at Gateway (gatewaytheatre.com and 604-270-1812) or $15 at the door

•Proceeds to the RichCity Idol endowment fund, created to provide scholarships to Richmond high school students

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