Tierney Watkinson | News Director
Prince George is not necessarily the first place one would think to look for incredible stage talent. A northern city known best for forestry and service industries might not seem to coincide with aspirations for the arts, but anyone who has visited the Two Rivers Gallery or watched a production put on by Theatre Northwest or the Prince George Playhouse would certainly know differently.
Adding to Prince George’s repertoire of artistic talent is Limelight Quest, a singing competition hosted by Dawn Boudreau since 2011. This year, the Quest begins with Preliminary Rounds starting August 7th and ends with the Finals on August 18th. Singers in the competition are of varying ages, but all are of great talent.
Dawn Boudreau was raised in Prince George and is an influential teacher of the musical arts. Back in 2011, the competition was called Prince George Idol, created to give Dawn’s students and other prospective singers something to work towards during the summer months. Dawn says, “It has always been my baby, although my partner, Carter Hortie, came up with the voting method.”
She changed the name of the competition in 2014 because she felt that “Idol” was the wrong label. “We are not creating idols. We are helping hard-working singers on their quest for the limelight,” Dawn asserts. The new name, “Limelight Quest,” is Boudreau’s own brand. “Limelight Quest is the name of my BC registered business, which encompasses music training, the singing competition and other event production.”
Although the competition is stationed in Prince George, Dawn herself currently works and lives in Vancouver. When asked if she would ever consider moving the competition to another city, Boudreau replied that while she used to believe the competition would be just as popular elsewhere, she has come to realize that Prince George itself is the reason for Limelight Quest’s success. “The businesses and organizations are generous and supportive. They donate the prizes and they support upcoming talent in a way I have not seen in other communities.” Most of Dawn’s family lives in Prince George and she herself originally had her studio here. “I know what it’s like to be a singer growing up in Prince George, with limited opportunity, so providing a stage and a boost for other upcoming singers in my hometown gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul.”
Dawn has not always managed the competition alone. “From the start, my daughter Lydia Desrochers was my right hand for this competition.” When her daughter moved to Montreal this year, Dawn planned to hire a single replacement, but ended up hiring a team to cover the scope of what Lydia had been able to do for the competition. Erika Callewaert, a former student as well as employee of Dawn’s, will be the competition’s Production Assistant. Erika is also a prize sponsor. Dawn hired photographers for both the headshots and the final round of the competition; the event’s official photographer is Michael Kast, also a sponsor for a few years running. Dawn credits Benchmark Automotive as being the sponsor whose donation enabled Limelight Quest to hire a Sound Technician, allowing Dawn some breathing room and letting her focus primarily on hosting Limelight Quest.
Not to be forgotten are the many volunteers who help with Limelight Quest every year. “I do all the organizing as I always have, and will continue to do: the website, the design work, coaching singers online, but it takes a lot of effort to make things run smoothly and I am so very appreciative of our volunteers!”
Limelight Quest is not all about winning, says Dawn. “The best part of the competition from my perspective is seeing the relationships that form because of it. People have partnered up as duos and bands and singers have made connections in the community which help propel them forward in their careers. My goal is education every year. Learning and growing is something we need as humans. It’s what keeps life interesting and makes it rewarding. Taking part in this competition, I hope that each contestant will learn something about themselves and will be able to use that moving forward, in life as well as in their music career.”
Preliminary Rounds will take place at the Cowboy Ranch at 7:30pm, from August 7th through August 10th; Semi-Finals will be held on August 13th and 14th, also from 7:30 to 9:30pm. Finals are August 18th at the BCNE in Kin 3, from 7:30 to 10:00pm. It is $10 to be a part of the audience. Cash and credit card (not debit) will be accepted at the venue doors.
The contest is decided via a points system, so be sure to stay for the entire evening and vote for your favourite performer! Four of the solo singers from each evening will advance to the Semi-Finals, and from there only 8 will advance to the Final Round. Prizes will be awarded to the first, second, third, and fourth place winners. Every singer is incredibly talented—this is not an event to miss!
You can find out more about Dawn Boudreau’s Limelight Quest Academy and its competition at www.limelightquest.com.