Jack’s Pub was ablaze with live jams and outrageous costumes last week as 10 finalists vied for the title of Tuff City Idol 2016.
Singer number one, Alex, set the tone for the night by smashing an empty bottle of Lucky in a mock bar fight during his performance of Trouble by Pink. Then singer number two, Letitia, came out in a radiant mermaid costume and the contest really set sail.
In the end, it was contender number lucky seven, Phillis Merasty, who would wow the judges with her first performance of Proud Mary by Tina Turner and bring the house down with her second performance of the Caribbean classic Hot-Hot-Hot.
Merasty walked away with the $1,000 grand prize and the coveted Tuff City Idol trophy.
“I’ve been a Tina turner impersonator for a while at casinos and stuff back home,” said Merasty who arrived in Tofino only six months ago from Saskatchewan. “I came out here for a one year break because I’ve been teaching for 25 years. This is what I do with my students. I teach six-year-olds how to dance. Last year we won singing Hot-Hot-Hot. They dressed up like me,” she said.
Merasty’s daughter, 23-year-old Remi Adeyinka, took home second place and a cash prize of $500 for her performance of Is This Love by Bob Marley and Waterfalls by TLC.
“I learned the rap in like a week. Normally when I performed it I would do like a freestyle thing, but I thought if I could get Lisa Left Eye Lopes’ rap down that’d be sick,” said Adeyinka.
Adeyinka might have been the runner up of the contest, but she doubled up on her winnings as her mom promised to contribute half of her grand prize towards her daughters’ upcoming trip to Toronto.
“It was crazy competing with my mother. At home all her glitter stuff was everywhere. She had all her wigs thrown about. But mother knows best,” said Adeyinka. “I didn’t know until last minute what song I was going to do first. She helped me pick the song.”
This was the first – and maybe last – Tuff City Idol performance for Merasty and Adeyinka.
“I’ll probably be moving away soon. I’m thinking I won’t be here next year. But it was exciting. The people were so supportive. I found like four guys here at the bar to carry me when I was singing Hot-Hot-Hot,” Merasty said.
“The Tofino crowd is dope. Since the first day that I ever performed here everybody was feeling it. Like, I get it, it’s a small town and there’s not a lot to do here so like Wednesday night is the night and people are out and ready to support and jam out. I dig y’all. I dig y’all so much,” Adeyinka warmly expressed.
One of Ucluelet’s many vocal talents of the night, Elyse Eyford, claimed third place for a second time, having won the same $250 prize back in 2014. She planned to take her backup dancers out for sushi with some of the winnings.
Music for the fourth annual Tuff City Idol was provided by Coral’s Karaoke and kudos are in order to judge Bruce Neugebauer from Okanagan Spring Brewery for donating the cash prize.