Country music will fill the air at the Chatham Banquet Hall Sunday as up to 40 singers take part in a provincial qualifier.
The Ontario Country Music Association International Finals take place, with performers coming from eight different communities – Belle River, Windsor, London, Cambridge, Kitchener, Hamilton, Sarnia and Chatham – taking part.
Event organizer Cary Templeman has been busy in recent weeks, scouring the communities for fresh country faces and voices.
“We’re searching for the very best country artists that we have that are unsigned,” he said. “I have been spending my Sundays for the past three months scouring Ontario, looking for singers and songwriters, pickers and players.”
Templeman got involved in the project after shooting a number of music videos in the Nashville area this past summer, he said. He learned of a competition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., called the North American Country Music Association International.
The event has been running for more than two decades.
“It’s established internationally, having artists from Brazil, the U.K., Australia, all proudly promoting North American country music style, both traditional and gospel,” he said.
Templeman said U.S. performers are also involved. But this past summer, he noticed there was only a smattering of Canadian performers, and all were from Saskatchewan.
“They recruited me thinking we could represent Ontario,” he said.
The round up of talent was an eye opener for Templeman, as some of the city competitions were well attended, while others weren’t.
“There were a lot of learning curves this year. I hope to do a better job next year,” he said. “We’ve got to get it marketed.”
Local competitors Sunday include Hayley Doucet, Granville Boutilier, Ryan Duncan, and Dave Tuffin.
The winner will have the opportunity to travel to Pigeon Forge in the spring to compete at the international level, Templeman said.
Tickets to the Sunday event are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Doors at the banquet hall at 280 Merritt St. open at 3 p.m. and the show begins at 4 p.m.
For more information, visit www.ocmai.ca