Pictured, local singer Delaney Schoelier holds her 2016 Stratford Star finalist trophy. She’s already a finalist in the Hidden Talent Canada Vocal Competition and, next month, will try to win the grand prize of a recording package at a Toronto recording studio.
By Dan Rankin
For the past two years, Grade 9 DCVI student Delaney Schoelier has reached the finals of the Stratford Star singing competition, which is hosted annually by the local YMCA and which Justin Bieber competed in several times in the previous decade. Not content to show off her considerable skills in her region alone, this year Schoelier entered the Hidden Talent Canada Vocal Competition, in which singers of all ages from around the country vie for a recording package at the Hidden Talent Recording Studio in the GTA.
From an initial field of hundreds, Schoelier, 14, has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the competition who will be singing for the grand prize next month in Toronto.
Previous rounds of the competition held in Toronto suburbs Vaughan, Thornhill and Concord have involved auditions, group performances for the 50 singers chosen to advance, and, most recently on March 5, duet performances for the 26 semi-finalists. Schoelier’s performance during the duet round of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” was enough to put her in the finals, where she’ll compete with singers from as far away as Montreal and as young as seven years old.
“She’s been naturally talented since she was very little,” said Delaney’s mother Annette. “She’s been singing in front of crowds since she was about three.”
Readily available on her phone is a video of a four-year-old Delaney singing the Carrie Underwood song “Jesus Take the Wheel” on stage at the old Central School gym.
“I can’t sing that anymore, it’s too high,” said Delaney, who more recently has chosen other country songs like “Just a Kiss” by Lady Antebellum and Reba McEntire’s “I’ll Be” during singing competitions.
During her performance in the finals of last year’s Stratford Star competition, Delaney dedicated “I’ll Be” to Annette, who adopted her as a newborn.
“She’s my little miracle baby,” Annette said proudly. “She was in the [Neonatal intensive Care Unit] when I adopted her. She was born 12 weeks early and she was 2 pounds. Now look at her.”
Delaney is grateful for all the help her mom has given her in pursuing her dreams of singing. “She drives me to competitions, drives me to auditions,” she said. “She bought me some recording equipment for Christmas and I’ve been using that. She bought me a guitar and a piano. She really just supports me.”
Last October, Annette surprised Delaney with tickets to see Taylor Swift – her idol – at the Rogers Centre.
“She writes every single song and is such a good songwriter and artist,” said Delaney, pointing out that Swift is the only singer to have won both the Grammy for Country Album of the Year (in 2010) and Best Pop Album (this year).
Delaney, who is taking piano and guitar lessons in St. Marys at Deep Waters Music and also plays trumpet, has dreams of travelling to Nashville to show off her talent and hopefully get a record deal – just like her idol. But, for now, Annette said she’s looking into kids songwriting camps around the province for Delaney to develop that skill along with her singing.
“She’s been contacted by three or four people now for possibly recording with them – but it’s not free,” said Annette. “They’re really interested and they want to record, but it also costs you thousands of dollars. That’s why this would be really great if she won.”