Curtis Labelle (contributed photo).

Curtis Labelle (contributed photo).

Central Albertan singers spotlighted in new talent competition

Red Deer vocal coach will live-stream the finals on YouTube

A Red Deer vocal coach is putting on an American Idol or X-Factor-style competition to give all the Central Albertans who sing in the shower a chance to showcase their talent.

Curtis Labelle, who’s directed and starred in many musicals — including a Liberace tribute show — and instructed at the Visionary Centre for Performing Arts near Edmonton, plans to live-stream the semi-finals and finals on YouTube. Both competitions will be held at Edmonton’s Days Inn and Suites Conference Centre, so he’s also hoping to interest some local Edmonton TV stations in airing the finals in May.

The first round of free auditions will be held on Feb. 18 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Snell Auditorium in Red Deer’s downtown public library. Auditions will also be held in Edmonton on Feb. 16 and 17.

Past articles:

Labelle as Liberace

Labelle takes on new challenge

“I’d like to get all the talent in Central Alberta to be part of this event,” said Labelle, of Labelle Stage Productions. He wants to draw out the community singers with decent voices — guys who can be coaxed to break into song after a couple of beers, and the “soccer moms” who sing along to the car radio.

All ages, categories and styles of music are welcome at the free auditions that will be held in front of a judging panel. Labelle said these experts won’t be afraid to give advice and feedback. “There will be less false hope given” to people who lack the chops to continue in the competition. But at the same time, he stressed, there isn’t a mean Simon Cowell-type judge in the bunch.

“They will be giving out positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.”

Of the initial participants (Labelle hopes up to 300 people will enter), only 100 singers will be given the chance to advance to the preliminaries on March 10 and 11, also at the Days Inn in Edmonton. That round will whittle the number down to 25 singers, who will compete again at the semi-finals on April 14 and 15.

The 10 participants who make it to the May 5 competition will be reduced to three finalists and then the overall winner. Labelle said an audience vote will help determine the final outcome.

Tickets will be sold to a live audience members for the April and May events. And Labelle said there are more than $1,000 in prizes to be won.

Labelle, who recently moved back to Red Deer to care for an ailing relative, believes there’s a great public interest in singing competitions. “Whether or not you want to make it a carer, we are offering this opportunity,” ‘he said, for people who want a fair appraisal of their abilities and the chance for some online “stardom.”

For more information, check the Labelle Stage Productions Facebook page.

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