Brianna Eldridge's voice truly is “one in a million.”
Her sultry vocals swooned the judges Friday night first during her rendition of Alannah Myles' “Black Velvet" at the annual "Quest for the Best” singing competition held under the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
She then topped fellow competitor Dave Miller to The Tube's “She's a Beauty" in the "Battle Song” finale, earning the $1,000 grand prize.
The judges lauded Eldridge's confidence on stage, saying it was part of the reason they chose her as this year's winner.
“Brianna always gives such a stellar vocal performance,” said Brittany Strachan, one of the three judges.
"She has this beautiful edge about her, both in her voice and the way she presents herself.
“You put that girl under a spotlight and she'll captivate you,” Strachan added.
Fellow judge Diane Maxey agreed, noting Eldridge's stage presence was excellent and that she was very confident while performing.
“It felt pretty surreal to win the competition," said Eldridge, who had childhood dreams of competing in "Quest.”
“I've been very interested in 'Quest' since I was super young and couldn't wait until I was old enough to be in it,” she enthused.
“So winning it was a little crazy for me.”
Strachan said all three judges were “very much on the same page” when it came down to choosing the finalists.
“There were so many great performances on Friday night but when it got down to the nitty-gritty, we looked really hard at technical aspects of the vocal performances, specifically pitch control,” she noted.
“We had some performers who gave it their all and owned the stage, but didn't necessarily stay on key through their entire song,” Strachan added, which was something that was very important to the judges.
Strachan said Miller “put himself right out there, getting into animal sound effects and showing us an impressive vocal range" with his performance of "Gitarzan” by Ray Stevens.
Eldridge, on the other hand, “gave a deep, raw performance of a song we all know and love.”
Afterwards, Eldridge admitted she chose “Black Velvet” because she knew it would be a crowd-pleaser, but it also worked well with her vocal range.
Mostly, she was just looking for a fun experience and to be able to perform with a band again.
“Competing this year was bit of a last-minute decision but I was looking for something fun to do,” Eldridge recalled.
“I also really wanted to perform with 'The Faculty' again,” she added.
“As a classically-trained vocalist you sing with an accompanist, so performing with a band is a totally different experience.”
Eldridge said she loves performing because of the reaction by the audience.
“It's really neat when you get up in front of all those people and the moment you open your mouth to sing, everyone goes wild,” she remarked.
Overall, Strachan lauded the amount of talent she, Maxey, and co-judge Amy LaFroy saw perform Friday night, adding it makes judging so much more fun.
“Obviously, I loved Brianna and Dave's acts, but Adrian Indian's performance of "Garden of Eden" absolutely blew my mind,” she said.
"His guitar skills are unreal and I just really loved his voice singing that song.
“Kristina Roberts gave one heck of a performance, and Dennis Morrisseau made me absolutely melt with his version of 'Amazed,'” Strachan added.
“Overall, the amount of talent in our area never ceases to amaze me.”
Dylan Ossachuck earned second place for the first set with his rendition of “New Orleans is Sinking” by The Tragically Hip.
Roberts, who sang “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, and Morrisseau tied for second place for set two.
Other “Quest” award winners included:
- “Show Stopper"—Adrian Indian ("Garden of Eden” by John Cafferty);
- top rookie—Socorro Galusha (“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton);
- “Dark Horse"—Mason Ottertail ("Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes);
- “Audience Response"—Clint Bruyere ("Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys);
- People's Choice (first set)—John Yerxa (“Wild Side” by Motley Crue);
- People's Choice (second set)—Kristina Robertson
- Band's Choice—Dennis Morrisseau
“Quest” once again was presented by the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce.