Cello, Nirvana and killer vocals — Lizzy Munson is the 2016 Stampede Talent Search Champion.

After eight days of competition, 67 contestants, and 10 judges, Lizzy Munson came out on top as the 2016 Stampede Talent Search Champion. With her own mash-up of “Heart Shaped Box/Smells Like Teen Spirit” her unique vocals, combined with a moody and dramatic cello performance, stood out from the field.

2016 Champion , Lizzie Munson, on stage Saturday night. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

2016 Champion , Lizzy Munson, on stage Saturday night. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

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What will these 12 performers have to do to win the title of 2016 Stampede Talent Search Champion?

Over the past seven nights of competition, there are now 12 performers left in the running for the title of 2016 Stampede Talent Search Champion. These 12 finalists are:

Annie Pattison Calgary, AB
Craig Henderson North Saanich, BC
Devin Cooper Innisfail, AB
Jill O’Connell Calgary, AB
Kaleigh Jo Kirk Cochrane, AB
Kate Stevens Calgary, AB
Kristian Sadio Calgary, AB
Lian Croome & Brandon Haddow Calgary, AB
Lizzy Munson Calgary, AB
Ryan Gazzola Burnaby, BC
Tayte Mitchell Vulcan, AB
Zasha Rabie Okotoks, AB

Selected by earning the top marks from our panel of Semi-finals judges which included Tanya Chumak (Dance), Lauren Ireland (Vocals), and Pat McGannon (Musician/producer), contestants stepped into the spotlight and showcased their skill, charisma and showmanship.

Annie Pattison will be moving on to compete Saturday, July 16th in the Finals. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Annie Pattison will be moving on to compete Saturday, July 16th in the Finals. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

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And then there were 24 — these Stampede Talent Search semifinalists stood out to the elite professional judges

From magic shows and dancers, to instrumentalists and bands, the Canadian talent to hit the stage in preliminary competition at the Stampede Talent Search kept our judges entertained and excited. And presented a challenge to reduce the field down to 24 contestants.

Jordana & Serena Traub

Jordana & Serena Traub

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Stampede Talent Search in the Community – Performance Camp nurtures up-and-coming young talent.

Discover, develop, encourage and showcase is the mandate of the Stampede Talent Search. And this past weekend, it was expressed in a free workshop, lead by industry professionals, to help educate and inspire young performers ages 6 to 21.

“Our roster of professional, coaches were able to help us reach out to talented young performers and inspire them to take their performance skills to the next level,” said Stampede Talent Search Chair, Andrew Bunka.

Industry heavy-weight coaches included Angela Benson (Dance Performance), Tamara Beatty (Vocal Technique) and Joni Delaurier (Songwriting).

Interactive, small group sessions gave workshop participants the opportunity to get one-on-one instruction and advice. The entire afternoon was designed to nurture collaboration, networking, and help young performers connect with each other in their local performing arts community. Participants walked away with new skills and tools to apply to any audition or stage performance in their future.

The momentum of Performance Camp will help many of these young performers prepare for the 2016 Stampede Talent Search auditions which will take place May 6, 7, and 8, 2016 in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park. Audition registration is now open, and hopefuls can register for a live audition in Calgary or submit a video audition. All audition details are available at StampedeTalentSearch.com.

 

 

Past Contestant, now Volunteer Committee Member, brings a new vibe to the Stampede Talent Search.

This month we are honoured to have our newest committee member, past contestant and 2012 Don Welden Most Promising Performer award recipient, Bryton Udy, share his take on transitioning from contestant to volunteer to help to make Canada’s largest youth talent competition a success.

Having been born and raised in Calgary, I have always loved the Calgary Stampede. From the moment I heard about the Stampede Talent Search, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. While the prizing and performance opportunity may have been what drew me to the Stampede Talent Search originally, it was the community and people that made me stay.

Bryton accepting the Don Welden Most Promising Performer award in 2012.

Bryton (far right) accepting the Don Welden Most Promising Performer award in 2012.

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Catching up with 2016 Stampede Talent Search Champion, Christian Hudson.

Christian Hudson made media headlines when he donated his 2015 Stampede Talent Search $10,000 cash Grand Prize to the Calgary Drop-in Centre. We caught up with him this winter and discovered that this remarkable young man’s list of accomplishments keeps growing.

Christian's quirky personality as captured during his Grand Prize photo shoot courtesy of Stampede Talent Search Sponsor, Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo (Photo Credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Christian’s quirky personality as captured during his Grand Prize photo shoot courtesy of Stampede Talent Search Sponsor, Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo. (Photo Credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

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A real Stampede “Feel-good” story: the Stampede Talent Search volunteer experience

On the Stampede Talent Search committee, Stampede time is the culmination of a year’s worth of work. And along with that a full range of emotions and experiences compressed into just ten days.

From the physical demands of running rehearsals, wrangling contestants and producing a state-of-the-art nightly show – to the emotional highs and lows of your favourite contestants moving on – or not – to the next round of the competition, it’s a marathon to get through the ten days. But it’s a marathon at sprint speed.

Shawna and Tristen Chang

Supporting our Junior performer, Tristen Chang, during a Saddledome Steps performance.

Last night was the final show of the competition where we named our 2015 Champion, Christian Hudson. And in a few quick moments after being named Champion, he promptly vowed to donate his $10,000 cash prize to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.

Christian demonstrated the true reason behind why we do what we do at Talent Search; we believe that this competition changes lives.

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2015 STAMPEDE TALENT SEARCH CHAMPION, CHRISTIAN HUDSON, PLEDGES TO DONATE CASH PRIZE

The Stampede Talent Search named their 35th Champion on Saturday night. Christian Hudson, a 19-year old from Airdrie, AB stood out from the final group of 12 performers with his take on a Nina Simone classic, “Be My Husband” recently updated by Ed Sheeran. Hudson received the President’s Trophy, a custom-one-of-a-kind silver belt buckle, a performer development package, musical instrument and recording prizes, and $10,000 cash.

Christian Hudson

Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo

Upon being presented with his cash prize, Hudson promptly announced that he would be donating it all to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre. During the week-long competition, Hudson spent a few nights on the banks of the Bow River instead of driving back to Airdrie to save money. He was inspired to donate his winnings after connecting with one person in particular whose story touched Hudson.

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Semi-Finalists Announced for the 2015 Stampede Talent Search

From magic shows to musicians, dancers to bands, the Canadian talent to hit the stage in preliminary competition was outstanding. Contestants entertained crowds of hundreds each of the past five nights. The top 25 young performers, out of a field of 58, as scored by a panel of professional judges, will be moving on to the next round of the competition.

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Celebrating two generations of Stampede involvement at the 2015 Stampede Talent Search

For Kerrie Everitt, Stampede memories of being a Young Canadian in 1985 and 1986 are flooding back quickly. She’s preparing to travel with her daughter, Capri Everitt, from their home in Vancouver to be a featured Junior performer at the 2015 Stampede Talent Search.

“I was ten years old when I was a Junior dancer and first performed in the Grandstand show,” says Kerrie. “And it’s pretty neat that Capri is 10, and will be performing at her first Stampede, too.”

Kerrie Everitt (second from right in red and white) in the 1985 Grandstand Show.

Kerrie Everitt (second from right in red and white) in the 1985 Grandstand Show.

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Celebrating 35 years of the Stampede Talent Search

Since 1980, the Stampede Talent Search has been providing a platform for young, amateur performers to demonstrate their talent. Thirty-five years of Talent Search Champions have gone on to become Juno Award winning artists, International hit-makers, and Canadian and World Champions. And it’s all because of a man named Don Welden.

Welden was the Stampede Entertainment Manager, who was convinced that free entertainment would be an important way to enhance the guest experience on Stampede Park. After a trip to Memphis, TN, to watch a talent competition at the Tennessee State Fair, Welden was convinced that a competition format would be valuable to young performers and exciting for the audience to watch.

Welden set about inviting amateur singers, dancers and musicians to compete in a talent competition held during Stampede time. As the competition grew in popularity, he then established a volunteer committee. The competition grew in scope—sponsors soon aligned themselves with the event, and the size of the committee grew to administer a now marquee, Canada-wide event.

In 2014, Kaleigh-Jo Kirk was the recipient of the Don Welden Award for most Promising Performer of the competition. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Kaleigh-Jo Kirk was the 2014 recipient of the Don Welden Award for Most Promising Performer. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

In 1988, the Stampede Talent Search committee created an award to honor Welden’s legacy. The Don Welden Most Promising Performer Award is given out annually to a contestant, selected by the committee, who demonstrates Welden’s values of integrity, commitment to their craft and congeniality.

The Stampede Talent Search is a must-see event during Stampede time. Free with park admission, talented performers ages six to 21 from across Canada entertain audiences nightly on a professional stage with a live band. This year, the top senior performer will earn $10,000 cash in addition to a valuable development package from the Calgary Stampede and a custom, one-of-a-kind Stampede Talent Search belt buckle.

If you’d like to see tomorrow’s next big star shine on our stage, preliminary performances start Friday, July 3 to Tuesday, July 7. Semi-finals are Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10, and the finals are held on Saturday, July 11. All performance begin at 6 p.m. and are held in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park.

Stampede Talent Search hopefuls learned that auditioning is not just about impressing the judges.

More than 90 young performers between ages six and 21 attended a workshop at Lord Beaverbrook High School last Saturday to glean tips from industry professionals on how to give their best audition. This free workshop was the first event on the Stampede Talent Search calendar for 2015, and all the participants left feeling more confident to own the stage.

Before being assigned to speaker sessions focusing on their specific talent, participants were inspired, motivated and serenaded by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, our 2007 champion.

MIchael Bernard Fitzgerald performing  next to his 2007 winning performance picture.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald performing next to his 2007 winning performance picture.

“Striving for perfection in an audition is unrealistic and unfair,” said Fitzgerald. “Prepare to be you, be your best and love what you do.”

The singer/songwriter session was hosted by Canadian Country Music Association nominated vocal duo Wildflower, Jennie Clarke and Dean Selby. “When it comes to song choices, it doesn’t matter if you’re singing a cover song or an original,” said Clarke, “it’s the sincerity of how you sing it that will showcase your talent.”

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Stampede Talent Search celebrates 35th anniversary with exciting program updates

This year is the 35th Anniversary of the Stampede Talent Search and the event has some exciting changes in store. The Talent Search was originally created to provide free, Stampede Park entertainment and showcase the talented youth in our community. As interest in the competition grew, a volunteer committee was created to promote and produce the show. Today, along with year-round activities for young performers, the Stampede Talent Search is a well-established youth program of the Calgary Stampede. “Our committee mandate is to discover, develop, encourage and showcase young talented performers between ages 6 and 21,” explains committee chair, Andrew Bunka. To continue furthering the program, 2015 brings some exciting changes to the Stampede Talent Search and their yearlong development opportunities.

TS1 A kick-off performance brings anticipation for the Stampede Talent Search

One major change to the 2015 Stampede event program is a free audition training workshop. The workshop will be taught by industry professionals and is open to all performers – singers, dancers, actors, musicians, and group and variety acts. Participants will be grouped by talent in order to receive relevant and specific skill development, and a keynote speaker will provide specific tips and tools for a successful audition for the Stampede Talent Search itself. Although the competition is for youth aged 14 to 21, junior performers aged 6 to 13, are welcome to attend the workshop. The younger attendees will receive age-appropriate training in a unique session.

A second exciting change, made possible by our sponsors, is that the Grand Prize has been increased to $10,000. Along with the cash prize, the significance of receiving the Grand Prize provides a customized development package to further grow the champion’s skills and elevate them to help achieve their performance goals.

TS3 A look at the 2014 Stampede Talent Search’s stage

The Stampede Talent Search will continue hosting events throughout the year, which are designed to provide young performers a place to practice their craft and hone their skills. Youth also learn great performance skills at these events which prepares them for the auditions. Each spring there are Canada-wide auditions held to identify the top 60 performers under 21. These top 60 compete during the ten days of Stampede.

“Part of our strategic plan is to invest in our community,” says director Mike O’Connor who also serves as board liaison with the Stampede Talent Search committee. “The Stampede Talent Search program is an exciting opportunity for us to give back to youth in our community.”

Throughout its 35 year history, the Stampede Talent Search has been the first to shine the spotlight on many up-and-coming performers that have gone on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry. Most notably, Paul Brandt was the 1992 Champion. Other exceptional Champions include Trevor Panczak, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and accordion virtuoso Michael Bridge. 2008 Champion and beat-boxer James “Peterpot” McInnes and 2013 Champion Annika Odegard were even headlined performers in the 2014 Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, “Barnburner” performing nightly to crowds of more than 120,000.

TS2 2014 Stampede Talent Search Grand Prize Champion Layten Kramer

Youth interested in this exciting program are encouraged to attend the free audition training workshop. The workshop takes place on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at Lord Beaverbrook High School. Online registration is required for all participants between the ages of 6 and 21; to register, visit www.stampedetalentsearch.com. Canada-wide auditions open early March; information can be found on their website.

The Stampede Talent Search is held nightly during Stampede time in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park. See you there!

35 years later, Sponsors are the true stars of the Stampede Talent Search.

As the Stampede Talent Search enters its 35th season, it’s impossible to reflect upon the history and transformation of this annual on-park event without a big “hats-off” to all of our sponsors.

Throughout the past three decades, significant evolution to the Talent Search show, format and set design have been enabled through generous donations and support from our sponsors. From technology to better showcase our performers, to equipment and musical instruments, the quality of contributions are a reflection of their commitment to our event.

New set design for the 2014 Stampede Talent Search.

New set design for the 2014 Stampede Talent Search. (Photo courtesy: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Our performers directly benefit from sponsorship dollars as well. Sponsors have helped enable our Grand Prize award of $10,000 this year and finalists receive generous cash prizes. A professional recording session sets up our Champion with valuable studio experience, and a development package through the Calgary Stampede can often kick-start their careers. Even professional photography helps fulfill the committee’s mandate of developing young talent by providing an essential piece of their personal portfolio.

The Stampede Talent Search is becoming a well-known and reputable national talent event drawing young performers from across Canada. Whether they are participating in our first free audition training workshop this spring, or performing on our stage during the ten-days of the Calgary Stampede, our young talent is able to experience a state-of-the art production and we couldn’t be more proud to associate with these fine sponsors.

 

Lead Sponsors:

CTV

Lammles

PSAV Presentation Services

The Calgary Stampede

 

 

Michael Lipnicki Fine Pianos

Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo

Bestway TV and Appliances

The Station Recording Company

Long & McQuade Musical Instruments

Hopewell Development Corporation

Global Experience Specialists

 

“Our sponsors are proud to be part of discovering and developing young talent,” says Vicki Kranenburg, volunteer lead of the Stampede Talent Search Sponsorship committee. “Over our 35 years, we have discovered major talent, internationally-acclaimed country recording star, Paul Brandt, being just one to note. Sponsors have been strong supporters of our event, and, through their generous contributions, have created an opportunity for all our performers to be their best.”

 A free audition training workshop for all potential contestants is being held Saturday, March 7th at Lord Beaverbrook High School. Young performers between ages 6 and 21 are invited to visit StampedeTalentSearch.com for details and registration information.

 

 

Life after winning the 2014 Stampede Talent Search is “one good thing after another” for our Champion Layten Kramer

For many young performers, becoming a Stampede Talent Search contestant is an incredible stepping-stone that propels them on to exciting careers. Our 2014 Champion, Layten Kramer, is no exception.

Since captivating audiences on our stage during the 2014 Calgary Stampede with his original piece, “Sea of Glass”, and earning top prize as determined by industry professionals, Layten has been working hard.

He funded his debut album through an Indiegogo campaign and completed a 5 track EP called, Through the Days. It is now available for download on iTunes or streaming on Bandcamp. Not bad for three weeks worth of recording between his co-hometowns of Canmore, AB and Vancouver, BC. And remember, he just became our Champion in July…

Earlier this fall, the Digital Journal named him one of 5 top young Canadian acts to watch out for in 2015.

And if that’s not enough, he’s currently touring with and opening for our 2007 Champion, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, during his #waytoobig #waytooloud tour. This is a show you do not want to miss, and an opportunity to see two incredible Stampede Talent Search Champions in one great night of music.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.  Photo credit: Mark Maryanovich

Our 2007 Champion Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. Photo credit: Mark Maryanovich

What does Layten have to say about everything that’s happened in his career since being named the 2014 Stampede Talent Search Champion?

Well, when we catch up with him, we will be sure to ask. In the meantime, you can get updates about Layten, and many of our other Champions and finalists, on the Stampede Talent Search facebook page, by following us on Twitter @stampedetalent or on Instagram at #stampedetalentsearch.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s show will be coming to Calgary on Friday November 28th, at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Show time is 8pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and start at $33.

 

We will be giving away two tickets to see Layten and Michael in concert!

Go to our Twitter or Facebook page, like or follow, and tell us what year Michael Bernard Fitzgerald won the Stampede Talent Search using #stsTime2Shine to be entered into the draw. The draw will take place Thursday, November 27th at noon.