She may only be in the Top 20, but Ashleigh Eymann feels like she’s already won.
The 27-year-old hip-hop and soul performer, who has played around venues Victoria for almost a decade, is one of 20 finalists in this year’s Peak Performance Project (http://peakperformanceproject.com)., a Music B.C.-funded competition that gives B.C. indie artists a chance to win big prizes and a platform to showcase their talent. It’s also a chance for the musicians to learn how to market themselves.
Eymann had no idea she’d be picked and was initially worried she wouldn’t measure up to more “established” artists.
“It warmed my heart. I feel like they were basing it on my potential,” she said.
“They saw something in my music they wanted to cultivate.”
Winning is secondary, Eymann said – she’s just grateful for the chance to gain exposure and industry know-how.
The finalists were picked from a pool of 360 applicants, and assembled July 1 to play a 20-minute set at the Surrey Canada Day celebrations.
On Aug. 26, they’ll head to Princeton, B.C. for a five-day boot camp on the music business.
The next stage is a string of shows in Vancouver, where the finalists will be cut to 10, then five and eventually three. There is almost $250,000 in prize money available.
Instead of a catty, Battle of the Bands-like atmosphere, Eymann said she feels a real “family energy” among the other finalists and Music B.C. judges.
“It’s a huge support system of local musicians,” she said.
Each finalist was given $5,000 last month to use at their discretion – some made viral videos, one artist used it for gas. Bob D’Eith, executive director of Music B.C., said artists are judged on how effectively they use the money.
While Eymann is a seasoned performer, she thinks she has yet to really use social media to connect with her fans and promote herself. “I feel like I could learn a lot in terms of creating myself in an industry where it’s all do-it-yourself. I think this will give me the kick that I need.”
Other Victoria-based acts in the running for the prize money are Acres of Lions, Avairis, Current Swell, Lindsay Bryan and Maurice.
Vancouver radio station 100.5 The Peak gives heavy radio play to local acts, and plays a big role in promoting the finalists’ music.
“Some of our artists are a bit spoiled,” said D’Eith.
In the three years the project has run, it has helped launch the careers of Island artists like Kyprios, Vince Vaccaro and Said the Whale.