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Fans will help crown Valley Voices winner

Event organizers add public vote to contest this year.
Justine Davis belts out 'Living for the City' by Stevie Wonder during Valley Voices 2010 at Abbotsford Agrifair.

Fans will have a chance to help determine this year's Valley Voices winner.

Event organizers have now added a new component to the American Idol-style competition, where the winner will be selected by a combination of public voting and the judging panel.

"I think with a lot of these types of contests, the challenge is the audience or people in the audience believe that it should have gone one way or another," said contest director Darcy Deutsch, who has partnered with Tim Barrett and Brad Styba on the project.

"So we're going to allow the audience to take part. They, the people, will speak and be heard."

A new people's choice award will also be handed out this year. Once the finalists are chosen, their profiles will be put on the Valley Voices website to allow people to begin text messaging or voting online for their favourite artist.

The contest format will be similar to last year, with the competition split into two age categories – eight to 12, and 13 to 18. At least 10 finalists from each group will perform at the Abbotsford Agrifair on Aug. 1 to determine the overall winner. Contestants will be offered performance opportunities July 28-31 to prepare for the finals.

The winner will receive cash, a three-track demo produced by Deutsch, photo shoot, free lessons and consultation with Nuu Music Artist Management.

"Our criteria is pretty high. We want people who are confident and are going to go up there and deliver the song and make it their own," said Deutsch, adding that song choice is critical. He suggests contestants pick tunes they can identify with in order to help them relate the story through their voice and stage performance.

Throughout the competition, the judges are there to provide feedback, encourage artists and help them along in their careers, said Deutsch.

"It's not some elusive thing that you can't get to, but it is something that does require a lot of hard work and dedication," he added. "The one's that can take the criticism and run with it, are the ones we've seen had the most success."

Valley Voices is open to all singers in B.C., including semi-professionals, emerging artists and amateurs. The first round of auditions will be sung a cappella, with an accompaniment permitted in the call-backs.

Auditions will be take place on June 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Darcy D Vocal Studio, 33783 Essendene St. To book an audition time, call Tim Barrett at 604-866-5911 or email