Written by CBC Charlottetown
Dylan Menzie has been chosen to represent P.E.I. in the latest round of voting in the CBC Searchlight contest, beating out nine other semi-finalists including his girlfriend and fellow semi-finalist, Kinley Dowling.
Searchlight is a CBC contest seeking out Canada's best undiscovered new artists. The 2016 contest began a couple of months ago with more than 1,700 entries, which have now been whittled down to one winner from each of 24 regions across the country. The winner takes a prize worth $50,000.
"That's amazing news! That's — wow — crazy!" was Menzie's reaction when Mainstreet P.E.I. host Karen Mair gave him the news Tuesday, as he and Dowling were on the road driving to play some gigs at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. The 21-year-old will play at The Paddock Tavern and The Porch, and Dowling will handle the lighting.
"Anything that gets people involved and talking is always fun," Menzie said of the contest. "It's nice to see peoples' reaction to a song.
"A bit of validation is really nice too!" laughed the Belle River, P.E.I., native. "'Cause you're in your room all day writing songs and trying to be creative, and then to have people like it is always good."
The Searchlight judges thought Menzie's song Kenya felt timeless, said CBC Radio host Rich Terfry, adding Menzie has drawn comparisons to N.S.-born singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett, and to Ron Sexsmith.
"One of our industry insider panelists who helped pick this song to represent Prince Edward Island said that it seems as though this song was pulled from the future pages of the Canadian song book, which I think is a great compliment," said Terfry.
The national round of voting starts Tuesday and closes May 9, a process that will see four finalists chosen: three by judges and one by public voting. The celebrity judges for this round include hip-hop legend Maestro Fresh Wes, Sarah Blackwood from the indie band Walk Off the Earth, and country musician Dallas Smith. The finalists move on to a televised national CBC show.
Menzie's second album launches May 20.