Natural charisma, years of entertainment experience – and a hot new hit song – have paid off handsomely for White Rock pop singer/songwriter Richard Tichelman, named July 21 as the 2021 Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search Grand Prize Winner.
Tichelman – these days billed simply as Richard – became a national favourite in the online talent search as a result of live-streaming his song Hands in one of six provincial web-isodes.
The shows were hosted June 21 to July 10 by comedian Darrin Rose, with input from a panel of artist advisors including broadcasters/musicians Jason McCoy and Ricochet, and Sally Shaar, lead singer of the band Monowhales.
In fan voting on a total of 18 acts, Tichelman took the top spot, edging out other provincial winners Taken By Sanity, from Alberta; Brandi Vezina, from Manitoba; Weigh The Anchor, from Ontario; Ricky Paquette, from Quebec; and Good Dear Good from Nova Scotia for the national title.
The prize includes a free trip to Toronto to perform live on stage at the prestigious 2022 Jim Beam Indie Awards, an annual showcase where thousands of industry insiders and indie fans from Canada and around the world come to discover the “next best thing.”
Also in the grand prize package are a fully-produced single at Metalworks Studios, a shopping spree at Long & McQuade, and gifts from Canadian Musician Magazine.
For the performer, just turning 22, the win not only provides important career momentum but is also a huge vote of confidence in his new pandemic-honed pop/rock sound.
Starting out busking on White Rock pier in his early teens, Tichelman found his greatest early success in the country idiom, securing many showcases with his own band.
But two years ago – after a year of fruitless negotiations with a Los Angeles company – he walked away from a 360-degree marketing and management deal because it “just didn’t feel right.”
With a new manager, Tracey Singer, and a new sense of purpose, he threw himself into an exploration of pop and alternative pop – which also happened to coincide with the emergence of the COVID-19 threat.
“I think the pandemic really gave me the time to get to know myself in this new chapter of life and this new genre I’ve gone into,” he said.
“I feel very comfortable with where I am now – I feel at home. I found a part of myself I never knew, and it puts a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I’m grateful to have made that change.”
The promise of his first two pop singles, Proud and The One, has really been confirmed by the dance floor-friendly club number Hands, he said, which has connected with fans both in its streamed first release and as a music video.
“That has truly been a success,” he said, noting that there was nothing that felt rushed or unfamiliar about the song by the time he rehearsed it with lead guitarist Ryan Stead, who put together the band that accompanied him in the live stream from Vancouver’s Armory Studios.
“I was very comfortable with the song at that point,” he added.
“Ryan, as the bandleader, has raised my attitude to certain sides of live performance, and helped me bring my performance to the next level,” he said, adding that he hopes to feature Stead and the same musicians in subsequent live shows.
Participating in the Jim Beam talent search was a “tremendous experience from the get-go,” he added, noting that he was determined to enjoy each step rather than be intimidated by the calibre of the other competitors.
“My mindset was not concerned about the fact that I was being put up beside such fantastic musicians. I approached it that this was really my time, my first live show coming out of the pandemic,” he said. “That’s what really spiked my heart.”
He said that since January he has been spending a lot of time in the studio, developing and adding new material to his catalogue of songs.
He’ll definitely be using the studio time and full mixing and mastering services from Metalworks, he said, with an eye to his plan to live-showcase a new album in August, with a full release, and more live performances in the fall.
“I do have a couple of songs in mind for taking into the studio, but I do have to choose something that is going to be connected and cohesive with the album release,” he said.
It’s definitely not time for resting on his laurels, Tichelman said.
“The talent search was that next step; that building block that we have to craft and plan for,” he said.
“I’ve climbed on it and I’m getting ready to build the next one now.”
All provincial finalists performances continue to be available for viewing online at: https://indies.ca/2021-jim-beam-talent-search-home/