Sands Secondary grad crowned Delta Idol

North Delta's Grace Hight took first place at this year's Delta Idol, followed by fellow North Deltan Jamaica Gagjena and Angelica Largo.

North Delta’s Grace Hight won this year’s Delta Idol with her rendition of Train’s Drops of Jupiter.

North Delta’s Grace Hight won this year’s Delta Idol with her rendition of Train’s Drops of Jupiter.

The Tsawwassen Arts Centre was home to a reality television-worthy competition last week, and it was a North Delta singer who came came out on top.

On Feb. 24, 12 singers between the ages of 12 and 18 brought their talent to the stage for the fourth annual Delta Idol. About 160 people came out to watch as the contestants competed to win three hours of recording time at Fresh Air Studios.

But only one of the hopefuls could win it and this year it was Grace Hight, whose cover of Train’s Drops of Jupiter wowed the judges, who even said they liked it better than the original.

“I was not really expecting this at all, to be honest,” Hight said. “I just came out because I love to sing and I wanted to sing and have a good time.”

The Sands Secondary graduate is currently attending the basic musicianship program at Douglas College. Her performance was natural, and even bumping her guitar into the microphone didn’t upset her song.

She can probably thank her lack of nerves for that.

“When I get up they just melt away,” she said. “I just kind of go ‘Oh, right, this is what it feels like. This is where I’m supposed to be.’ Everybody says that’s a cliche, but that is what it really feels like when you perform. It feels like you’re at home on the stage. And it’s a really cool feeling.”

Jamaica Gagjena, a self-taught singer from North Delta, came in second with her rendition of Wings by Little Mix, and Angelica Largo, who sang a grunge-swing version of Britney Spears’ Toxic, came in third.

(from left) 2017 Delta Idol finalists Grace Hight (first place), Jamaica Gagjena (second place) and Angelica Largo (third place). Photo credit: Grace Kennedy

(from left) 2017 Delta Idol finalists Grace Hight (first place), Jamaica Gagjena (second place) and Angelica Largo (third place). Photo credit: Grace Kennedy

The nine other singers sang a variety of tunes, covering everything from Motown and jazz to Disney and country. Linda Szentes, one of the judges at the event, said she was surprised by the good quality of the singers and that what set the winners apart was their stage presence.

“The people who won really had a persona,” she said. “They were artistic. They not only weren’t [just] singing songs that someone told them to sing or they liked from a movie. They had a personality, a persona, an artistic presence, and that involves integration of the technique, of the song, of the singer. And that’s why they won.”

When the judges came back from their deliberations, they requested that next year’s Idol competition be divided by age, with the younger singers in one category and the older singers in another.

“They’re obviously at very different stages of maturity and also vocal development,” Szentes said afterwards. “You can’t really compare the two.”

The first Delta Idol was divided by age and Lisa Doepker, one of the Delta staff who worked on the event, said they would definitely want to break it into two age groups again.

“Each year there’s different things we want to tweak,” she said, “and we roll that into the next one.”