“I am grieving my choir. It’s a big grief,” says Sophie L’Homme over the telephone.
As a self-employed musician, the Tofino and Ucluelet choir conductor and founder of the Tofino Jazz Festival, lost all her income – and gigs – in one momentous sweep when the coronavirus closures stifled the coast.
L’Homme has been trying to host choir rehearsals over Zoom Video, but it’s just not the same.
“Zoom will only pick up the voice of the person talking the loudest and there is a lag,” she says.
To cope her lack of chorus (and the crazy situation the world finds itself in), L’Homme has teamed up with Tuff City Radio’s Cameron Dennison to host a singing contest called ‘The West Coast Screech’.
“I’ve been talking about doing something like this with Cameron for a while. Cameron and I are creatively very a like and we always make up weird concepts of radio shows we would do if we had time. And now we have time,” she said.
‘The Screech’ is very much a copycat of the television show ‘The Voice’, noted L’Homme.
Contestants are asked to send an audio recording of one song to email@example.com before April 5 at midnight.
“We want to feel like you are recording it from the corner of your kitchen counter,” she said, adding that ‘The Screech’ is free to enter and open to kids and adults.
“There are some voices in town that are very easy to recognize so those will come through, but some people sing and we don’t know they are singing. This will be a chance for them to express themselves without being the centre of attention. It’s just their voice.”
L’Homme advises contestants to practise their performance before recording it. And she tells the Westerly its not a karaoke contest, it’s one or two instruments and a voice. The contest will be judged on the voice more than the overall performance of the instruments.
“Maybe send your recording to a friend and see what they say. Rehearse it a couple times. Make sure you are singing the right melody,” she says.
All entries must be recorded after March 24, 2020 and commercially released songs will not be accepted, although original songs are welcome.
After the call for entries closes, L’Homme will select three songs to play every three days on Tuff City Radio (90.1FM in Tofino and 99.5FM in Ucluelet).
“We will reveal the names of the top three voices only,” L’Homme said.
“We can’t give up on music and art. A lot of people are self-isolating right now. It’s a tough time. I think for me, what motivates me is making my community happy and giving something for people to work on from their house.”
The winner of ‘The Screech’ gets a $300 payout. Second place will get $150 and third receives $50. Any local businesses interested in sponsoring ‘The Screech’ are encouraged to contact L’Homme at firstname.lastname@example.org.