Aug-09-2014 ~ St. Albert girls make impression at Big Valley Jamboree

St. Albert was well represented at the ATB Homegrown Talent Competition at the hugely popular Big Valley Jamboree last weekend.

Hailey Benedict, 12, took first place in the 12 and under category and Julia Nicholson, 16, placed third in the under 18 category.

Hailey won over the judges with her original song My Sweet Alberta Home and Julia rocked out to Folsom Prison Blues.

“Hailey wrote My Sweet Alberta Home when she was 11 for a competition,” said Julia.

“I was blown away. It was really well written, but she couldn’t play guitar at the time so she asked me for help. I recorded myself playing the notes and Hailey sang over that.”

A product of a musical family, Julia’s dad taught her how to play guitar when she was six years old. She gave her first live performance at a school talent show when she was 12.

“I found out I loved playing in front of people,” said Julia. “Performing to an audience is the best part of making music. I love the applause and the energy that the crowd can give you.”

Julia met Hailey through music a few years ago and they’ve been good friends since.

“Hailey’s really amazing. She started taking guitar lessons about a year ago so she could play her song and sing it at the same time,” said Julia.

It took months of lessons and constant practice before Hailey could perform for an audience. It was hard work, but it paid off at the Big Valley Jamboree.

Hailey took home a trophy, $100, and a year’s membership to the Alberta Country Music Association (ACMA) worth about $50 for coming in first.

After the competition Hailey stayed late and watched one of her favourite country stars, Miranda Lambert, take the stage.

“Hailey’s been singing since she was two,” said Brandee Benedict, Hailey’s mom.

“She used to watch The Little Mermaid and sing along to all the songs. It’s funny, even then she liked performing.”

Both musicians said they will be back for Big Valley next year and already have their next shows lined up.

On September 26, Hailey will sing the national anthem at Commonwealth Stadium to open the Edmonton Eskimos game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Julia Nicholson has been selected compete in the Global Country Star Search competition in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in March.

Hailey and Julia wanted to thank everyone for supporting them and their music.

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