On Saturday, September 10th, a Northern Star was born.
From September 9th to 11th Barkerville Historic Town hosted its inaugural Cowboy and Drover Jubilee, including the first annual ‘Northern Star’ amateur singing competition, sponsored by 97fm The Wolf in Prince George.
Barkerville’s renowned Theatre Royal set the stage for some of BC’s freshest talent to shine. Long-time Barkerville interpreter and Theatre Royal performer Danette Boucher (as Miss Florence Wilson) hosted four ‘Northern Star’ finalists as they completed two gruelling rounds of musical competition in front of a house packed with enthusiastic spectators Saturday afternoon. Theatre Royal producers Richard Wright and Amy Newman, of Newman and Wright Theatre Company, joined acclaimed cowboy musician and festival-circuit favourite Allen Christie to judge the performances.
The finalists themselves represented the best and the bravest from BC’s south Cariboo region to the Northern Capital of Prince George, and demonstrated several generations of skillfulness. Quesnel wunderkind Alex Verge, a mere 14 years old, opened the competition with a vociferous performance that seemed to belie her relatively young age. Clinton vocal powerhouse Tanni McColl wowed the crowd next with a stirring a capella selection, and a couple of gentlemen cowboys from PG – Lloyd Elson and Terry Wozney, respectively – closed the first round of competition with traditional, guitar-laced country ballads. When both rounds of the competition were complete Barkerville’s own musical sensation, JP Winslow, entertained the crowd as the judges deliberated.
The Theatre Royal buzzed with excitement as Richard, Amy, and Allen took to the stage to announce the winner. Second place went to Lloyd Elson, and the winner was… Terry Wozney! Wozney, who had previously won a trip down to Barkerville in order to compete in the Northern Star competition (thanks to 97fm The Wolf, the determination of his partner Christina, and an eleventh-hour YouTube video submission to Barkerville’s Facebook fan page) looked simultaneously stunned and thrilled the moment his name was announced.
Terry was lauded by the judges as an authentic star in waiting. They each loved his quiet dignity, his infectious musical style, and his undeniable talent.
“He’s the real deal,” said Barkerville’s Richard Wright. “Terry has the ability to make us feel like we’re all sitting around a campfire together while still reaching out to the entire audience.”
All four contestants conducted themselves like true stars, and the audience who had gathered for the Cowboy and Drover Jubilee cheered each one of them on as they sang through both rounds and graciously accepted the astute and invaluable feedback from the three judges, all well-established professional musicians. The judges were so impressed by everyone, in fact, that they spontaneously offered some one-on-one coaching sessions to help each star continue working towards a career as a performing artist.
Each contestant won a 2012 annual pass to Barkerville, just for making it to the finals. The runner-up, Lloyd Elson, also took home a generous gift certificate from Spruce Capital Feeds, one of the Cowboy and Drover Jubilee sponsors. Terry Wozney, the new Northern Star himself, was awarded a spectacular prize package consisting of two nights’ accommodation in Barkerville, a valuable Barkerville gift basket, recording time at a Prince George sound studio, a variety of broadcast opportunities for the resultant single, and a seat at the judges table for next year’s Northern Star competition.