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Post Info TOPIC: A kinder, gentler sort of talent competition


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A kinder, gentler sort of talent competition

YTV looks for next star in first show of its kind for kids 15 and under

Tamsyn Burgmann

Christina Aguilera got her start as a Mouseketeer. Avril Lavigne crooned in her early teens with country singer Shania Twain. Michael Jackson was winning acclaim before he had run out of fingers to show his age.

They each started out when they were young and grew to be recording artists with multi-platinum, chart-topping albums. And that's exactly what Canadian children performing on a new YTV show debuting tonight are shooting for.

Dubbed the first Canadian talent series for kids 15 and under, YTV's The Next Star is part Canadian Idol, part Kids Say the Darndest Things. There's a competitive beat underlying the program only one kid will receive the top honour but the show doesn't revolve around the sometimes nasty rejections seen in adult-based TV talent searches.

It does, however, start in much the same manner: a lively and lovable host, in this case Adamo Ruggiero, 22 (who plays Marco Del Rossi in Degrassi: The Next Generation), whisks across the country with a panel of judges/mentors to select 12 hopeful youngsters teeming with musical talent. In Toronto, the number of performers is cut to six. From that point, the group charges towards a career in showbiz.

Through 13 episodes, the budding artists audition, write their own songs, develop a signature look and navigate other music industry incidentals: things like giving back to your fans and, of course, how to handle badgering media types.

"We went in there not knowing what to expect from such a young demographic and these kids have been so brilliant, they've come with a purpose," said Ruggiero, who calls himself the group's big brother. Along the way, the final six will be mentored by a trio of Canadian music industry professionals, including Christopher Ward, the songwriter known for penning "Black Velvet"; marketing executive Steve Cranwell, and musician Suzie McNeil, who was the last woman standing in the talent search show Rockstar: INXS.

"There's some funny kids, and a few extreme kids in their own way, but there isn't that sort of objectification that there is in those other (talent search) shows," said McNeil.

"When we're auditioning kids across Canada, the worst thing that could happen and what we don't want to do is to say `No, you're not right,' and have them quit trying to live out their dream."

The performer who comes out on top will land a recording contract with Universal Music Canada and make a professional music video. It all comes down to an audience vote, via or text message, in a live finale show in late September.


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Sounds good, a lot of excellent singers come from Canada as we all know. I wonder if we can see it in US?

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