YORKTON — Nineteen-year-old Cassandra Danyluk, who graduated from Canora Composite School in 2021, is having a summer to remember.
On July 9, she performed in the GX 94 Star Search Final at the Yorkton Fair, after being selected as one of only eight singers to qualify.
“I’m so thankful to be able to be back on stage performing again, sharing music with everyone after COVID-19 shut everything down for so long,” said Danyluk.
“The Yorkton show went well; the grandstands were packed. It was definitely the most people I’ve ever sang for. They only announced the first-place winner, which was Zack Richards of Opaskwayak, Man. The two songs I sang were Kerosene by Miranda Lambert, and Folsom Prison Blues by my favourite artist, Johnny Cash.”
At the time of Danyluk’s previous visit with The Canora Courier she had just qualified for the Star Search semifinal which was held during June Days in Churchbridge on June 15.
“June Days is similar to Canora in Bloom,” she explained. “I had sung on that stage in Churchbridge before, so that helped. They had a community meal just before the competition. I was happy with how it went, and I was chosen to move on to the final in Yorkton, along with Jesse Genaille of Swan River, Man., Jessica Madsen of Theodore, and Kate Erhardt of Togo.”
The other four singers to qualify for the Yorkton event were: Megan Kelly of Rocanville, Cassandra Tomolak of Esterhazy, and two Manitoban performers, Kolby Clunas of Russell and the eventual winner, Zack Richards.
Danyluk said one of the highlights of the Yorkton competition was the opportunity to sing with a live band.
“We performed with the Samara Yung band, who are quite familiar performers in Canora. We rehearsed with them on the morning of the show. They even had show lights and a fog machine- I think singing is easier in that environment since the focus isn’t all on the singer. It’s less nerve-wracking to have more people with you on-stage.
“I find the sound quality is really good with a full band, certainly better than when it’s just me with an acoustic guitar.”
Even though performing for a large audience was a great experience, Danyluk admits that it was quite challenging to make sure she was at her best.
“You need to remember to have fun, it’s not only about who wins and loses; not to be too much in your own head. If I’m having fun, chances are the audience is having fun too.”
Danyluk said it didn’t really seem like a competition, since she had the opportunity to perform with other local artists.
“With so many people in the audience it’s good exposure, it gets my name out there,” she said. “As I enter more of these competitions, I feel like my stage presence and musicianship have improved. I’ve gotten more comfortable on stage. Many people don’t realize, when you sing you’re not just thinking about singing, you have to make sure sound is OK, your costume is OK, there’s more to it than just performing.”
Pretty much her whole family made the trip to Yorkton to cheer Danyluk on, as well as friends from Canora and Kamsack.
“Of course, some of my friends from Kamsack were also there for Kate Erhardt, who is from that area. We’ve sang at a few of the same competitions, and have gotten to be good friends.
“All of us who competed at Yorkton get along well. Plus, it’s always nice to spend time with previous Star Search winners. Thomas Hazlet of Pelly was there, after he won the last competition in 2019, and he is always helpful.”
This was Danyluk’s second experience with GX 94 Star Search, and her first trip to the final.
“I wasn’t going to enter this year, but then my family and friends convinced me to go after it and I’m happy that I did.”
Danyluk plans to carry the excitement from the Yorkton experience into her next singing engagement on July 23.
“I’ll be performing at the Rawhides Talent Show in Stenen. It’s held on their outdoor venue and they encourage a variety of acts to enter, not just singers.”
Even though Danyluk will be heading to Saskatoon in fall to continue her education in agronomy at the U of S, she still plans to pursue her love of singing and look for opportunities to perform in The Bridge City.