Even before Lake Country teenager Elise Boisvert was born, her mother Louise began singing a lullaby to her.
A singer and dancer herself, Louise likely thought her daughter would be musical in some way, but had no way of knowing just how important the song would become for her child.
Now 14, Elise still hears that same song every night as Louise softly sings Like An Angel Passing Through My Room to soothe her pain.
Elise is the inspiration behind the Angel Awards, a talent competition and fundraiser in support of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It was started by Louise to give encouragement to gifted young performers and to raise funds to go towards research into juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The event is now moving into its fourth year and will take place in June, however, registration for the talent show is now open.
Elise was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at the age of four, after she first displayed symptoms of the disease at just two years old. A debilitating auto-immune disease, it attacks joints with chronic pain, swelling and stiffness and affects approximately three in 1,000 children.
Elise is in constant pain and can never get away from it, except when it comes time for her to sing.
“She says when she sings, the pain disappears,” said Louise in an interview with The Lake Country Calendar. “She doesn’t forget. It actually goes away, so something happens for her that is pretty powerful with music. It’s too bad we can’t invent a pill that does the same thing music does for her in a minute and 30 seconds.”
While there is no pill that can do what music does, Louise’s connection to the music industry and artists prompted her to organize what has become an annual event that is growing each and every year in the Angel Award, a talent competition for kids and young people between the ages of 10 and 25.
The event also features several musical performances including one by Elise herself.
And it is when Elise sings the song –which has become the theme song for the Angel Awards – her pain is lifted, if just for a brief few minutes.
This year’s fourth annual Angel Awards is gaining momentum to the point where artists and musicians have started to reach out to Louise to perform, as opposed to the other way around. During the event the top 10 talent acts will compete for prizes, which include studio time, while performers also wow the crowds with song and dance.
As opposed to regular competition shows, the scene backstage at the Angel Awards is one of camaraderie and helpfulness, likely due to the nature of the show.
“Every year I get to the point where I’m exhausted and thinking ‘why am I doing this?’” said Louise. “I’m working and performing and teaching dance and trying to be a good mom and take care of a sick child. I question if I’m doing too much. And then I get to the show and I see kids in wheelchairs that are motivated to get out of the chair.
“Elise spends most of her days hiding how much pain she is in. It’s invisible. So when she can be backstage and these kids can be backstage surrounded my musicians, they feel normal. They don’t feel any different. Music is universal. That’s why I created this. I knew what music does.”
Boisvert is now looking for competitors for the talent show portion of the Angel Award. The competition is open to all Okanagan and B.C. residents and early-bird registration is now open. (As of April 30, late registration fees apply).
Out of all auditions, top 10 contestants will be chosen to perform live at the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country June 25 for a chance to win cash prizes and a one-of-a-kind Angel Award sculpture created by Kelowna artist Alex Fong.
Headlining the event will be Vernon soprano Melina Moore, who is a friend of Boisvert’s (Louise recently appeared in the Rocky Horror Show in Armstrong, which was produced by Moore’s Big Apple Productions).
“Lisa Schofield, owner of Diversity Dance in Vernon, will also be involved in the professional side of things with Lisa choreographing and potentially as one of our adjudicators, depending on the top 10,” said Louise.
There will be one live audition day in March. Contestants must register ahead of time. Contact email@example.com or visit www.angelaward.ca for more information.
– With files from the Vernon Morning Star.