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Local hopes to makes finals in Variety contest

Vernon’s Kailee Duggan needs community’s help in pursuing her music dream
Kailee Duggan

If Kailee Duggan plays her cards right, she could be seen on television around the province, slotted between performances by Michael Bublé and the Divas of Soul.

But she needs her community’s help to get there.

The W.L. Seaton Secondary Grade 12 student, who sings and plays guitar, found out Tuesday she has been selected by Variety, the children’s charity, as one of 10 people’s choice candidates in the Variety’s Got Talent competition.

As of Thursday afternoon, Duggan was neck and neck for second place with another candidate from Vancouver Island to make it into the competition.

Nineteen talented young artists from across the province, between the ages of 13 to 19, were selected from hundreds of applicants for the competition. From these, nine have been chosen as finalists to perform in the Variety’s Got Talent Finals Feb. 3 in Vancouver, where a panel of industry judges will select the winner to perform on the Variety Show of Hearts Telethon, which airs live on Global BC Feb. 11 and 12.

Duggan is in a “wild card” position, and could be one of two additional finalists to be invited to perform at the finals as the People’s Choice Award winner, but she needs votes to get there.

Duggan, who works at a local diner when not in school, has been busy getting the word out through friends and on Facebook since she was announced as a finalist. And as the voting closes Friday, she is down to the final countdown.

“The only way I’ll make it to Vancouver is if I have the community backing me up and getting support,” said the 17-year-old who will graduate this year. “Even if I don’t make it, it’s a great way to share my music and get it out there.”

It was Duggan’s grandmother who told her about the Variety contest, after reading about it in The Morning Star.

“My dad said ‘you have to do this,’” said Duggan. “I hadn’t entered anything in a long time. I’ve spent most of Grade 12 thinking about university, so music has been put on the back burner.”

Those who check out Duggan’s audition video on YouTube will hear her perform her own original tune called Head in the Sand.

“I wrote it last year. It’s a song that came to me and is about nothing specific,” she said. “I usually write about what I’m feeling inside. It’s not necessarily about me, but what I see... It’s not a happy-go-lucky song, but it’s not depressing either.”

This isn’t the first time Duggan has succeeded in making it to the finals of a talent competition.

In 2010, she and fellow musician Ryan Breitkreutz, calling themselves Tangelo, entered the local Our Kids Have Talent contest put on by the Rarearth Music Festival. They ended up placing second overall, which came with a cash prize, and a free recording day at the Groove studio for being named best performer of the night.

Duggan, who now studies guitar with local musician/instructor Dave Anthony, has been singing since she can remember and playing the guitar since she was eight.

“My parents (Shelley and Mark Duggan) say I started singing for them when I could talk, and I started lessons when I was six. I stopped when I was 14 to take guitar lessons,” she said.

Duggan started performing gradually, putting on shows for her parents and later singing at school talent shows.

“My parents noticed that I stuck with it. I tried softball, and that didn’t stick,  but growing up, I’ve always had music in my life,” she said.

And that includes performing with worship teams at both St. John’s and the Alliance churches in Vernon, as well as at local coffee shops and events.

“It’s my dream to pursue music. I never envisioned doing anything else. No matter what, it will always be there. I don’t need to be famous, but I would love to be in a band and travel the world,” said Duggan, citing Montreal’s Grammy winning band Arcade Fire as the kind of group she aspires to one day be a part of.

To help Duggan reach her dreams, the public can visit, and link to Variety's YouTube competition and "like" their favourite performers. (You will need to sign up to do this.) The competitor with the most likes will win a spot in the Variety’s Got Talent finals. Voting ends Friday, Jan. 27 at 4 p.m.