By Jessica Lovell
A University of Guelph student has a chance of being the Canadian National Exhibition’s next Rising Star, having earned herself a spot in the Ex’s annual Rising Star Talent Competition later this month.
Michelle Bruno’s roommates will likely be glad to know all that repetitious singing she did has begun to payoff.
Her housemates had to put up with her singing “I Love You, I Do,” from the musical Dream Girls, repeatedly until she thought she had it just right for her entry video.
“They had to hear me sing it over and over again. I felt so bad,” says Bruno, who is going into her third year studying music at Guelph.
But minus the repetition, hearing Bruno sing couldn’t have been so bad. After all, her audition video, filmed herself in her bedroom of the shared house on Kortright Road, was enough to earn her a spot in the talent contest.
The competition is a first for Bruno. Though she’s performed in musicals, including the university’s productions of Rent last year, she’s never had to stand up and sing before judges.
She has done live auditions before though, so the experience will not be entirely foreign, she says.
“It’s natural to be nervous, but at the same time, I like to do it,” she says.
Canadian Idol was not an option for Bruno, who turns 20 this year, because the show ended just before she was old enough to be eligible, she says.
It was a friend at work – Metalsmiths jewelry store in Stone Road Mall – who told Bruno about the CNE competition, and she didn’t hesitate to go for it.
Bruno, who has been singing since she was nine or ten, has always loved music and hopes to make her career in the industry.
“It’s just been a really big passion of mine my whole life,” she says.
She sees herself ending up as a music therapist, a teacher, or maybe even a producer.
“The behind the scenes aspect is just as cool as being out front,” she says.
But right now, she’s getting ready to put herself out front. She’s working on picking out her song for the first round of the competition.
The CNE contest does not exactly offer Idol fame, but the top three finalists will be awarded cash prizes, and the first-place winner will get to represent the CNE at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Canadian Youth Talent Competition in Winnipeg in November.
Another plus: It’s “probably not as intense as American Idol,” says Bruno.
She gives her preliminary round performance Aug. 25 on the CNE’s Variety Stage. She’s expecting her parents, from Woodbridge, and maybe her siblings to be in the audience to cheer her on. “It’s a little nerve-wracking,” she says. “You have no idea how it’s going to play out.”
If she makes it past that round, she will be up against the other 13- to 21-year-old youth performers in the semi-final round, taking place Aug. 29 to 31.
The finals take place Sunday, Sept. 2 at the CNE’s Bandshell.
Bruno doesn’t know if she’ll make it that far, but she’s going to take the experience for what it’s worth.
“It’s a good experience even if you don’t go anywhere,” she says. “It helps you grow as a performer.”