A determined young singer from Cloverdale is counting her lucky stars after a hard-fought win at this year’s Valley Voices Vocal Contest, held over the B.C. Day long weekend.
It was Madison Bell’s fourth crack at the annual summer talent contest, turning in a layered and expressive performance of the anthemic “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, proving she’s got the talent and perseverance she’ll need to survive in the notoriously competitive music industry.
Just 13 years old, Bell’s impressive MainStage performance at the Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo persuaded the judges – a panel of industry insiders and performers – that she was the top contender of this year’s final six, dedicated to developing young talent in the region.
“She was always the youngest in the finals, and it is tough to compete against kids up to 18 years old at such a young age,” Madison’s mom, Michelle Bell, told The Reporter following the win.
As grand prize winner, Bell will receive a development package that includes time in the recording studio and songwriting coaching with Troy Sampson, a songwriter who’s written for Victoria Duffield and Cody Simpson.
“They will write a song together and they will produce it and record it for her,” says Michelle.
Despite her young age, Madison is already well-versed in the business.
Not only does the A.J. McLellan Elementary grad write her own songs and play the guitar, she is also a veteran live performer who’s dazzled live audiences since she was in single digits, most recently busking in White Rock this summer.
She didn’t perform an original composition at Valley Voices, but her experience on stage – and her steadily maturing skills as a songwriter – clearly gave her the edge against her elder competitors this year.
At the finals in Abbotsford, Madison performed Sia’s soulful torch song, “Elastic Heart” and, at the finale, “Counting Stars” a soaring anthem by OneRepublic.
Hundreds of hopefuls audition at three different sessions for the Valley Voices Vocal Contest. Judges select just 20 to move forward.
Those 20 have to use social media to garner support from fans in order to move onto the semi-finals. From there, the field is narrowed to 15 who perform for three judges who then select the finalists.
She’s taking her musical ambitions very seriously; she’s been working hard taking weekly vocal lessons with Darcy D at DMG in Abbotsford. Madison also takes guitar lessons, inspiring new songs and experimentation.
The win is welcome reward for so much hard work, underlying the boost of confidence she earned after winning a recent songwriting competition sponsored by Shaw TV called EverIAThing.
Contestants had to submit an original song bia video that was judged by eight music industry insiders – plus perform at a live gala event in New Westminster where the 15 finalists sang a one-minute sample of their songs for the judges.
Madison won first place, a prize package worth more than $4,000, along with 12 hours in the studio to produce her original song, “Pretty Scars,” plus more support to help her carve out a career in the business.
Madison is entering high school this fall (Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary), but hasn’t sat idle this summer; she performs wherever she can, and also went to Los Angeles for an intensive, 10-day artist development program at a university. She stayed in a student dorm and took classes, rubbing shoulders “with some of the biggest and influential people in the industry,” says her mom, who points out Madison got the chance to perform in front of Justin Timberlake’s and Rihanna’s vocal instructor. “It was pretty exciting for her,” Michelle says.
For more, check out Madison Bell Music on Facebook.