Rising star

A cover of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic won a Nanaimo teen first prize in a provincial competition

A cover of Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic has won a Nanaimo teen first prize in a provincewide competition that performers Michael Bublé and Carly Rae Jepson entered in years past.

Jayden Holman, 16, entered the PNE Star Showdown contest in Vancouver with his guitar, his voice and no expectations and was blown away when he won the youth category on Aug. 18 and then came in top overall winner on Aug. 21.

“I felt afterwards that I had just poured my heart out,” he said. “It’s kind of cool to have won it because [Bublé] won it.”

His first-place finish earned him $5,000 cash and a chance to represent the Fair at the PNE at the Canadian Youth Talent Competition during the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions National Conference this November in Winnipeg.

The Grade 11 Wellington Secondary School student was selected to compete at the Showdown from more than 400 YouTube entries. Eleven competitors vied for the top three spots in each category – kids, youth and adults – and the nine finalists competed for title of overall winner.

“It was huge, a big stage,” said Holman. “I was very nervous, but I’m pretty confident once I start singing.”

While it was a big audience for Holman, it is not the biggest he’s been in front of – he played Sunfest in Duncan earlier this summer, a large country music festival that features well-known musicians such as Dierks Bentley.

Other events he’s performed at this summer include Canada Day in Maffeo Sutton Park, Parksville Beach Festival, Nanaimo Marine Festival, Ladysmith Days and the Vancouver Island Exhibition.

“This is my first season of being really busy and doing lots of stuff,” said Holman.

He’s loved music since he can remember and even before that – his father took him to a David Gogo concert when he was three and the story goes that after seeing his interest, the drummer invited Holman up on stage to hammer out a beat on the drums.

“I’ve always loved it,” he said. “All my uncles play and sing. In kindergarten and Grade 1, I would pretend I was a rock star.”

Holman started putting the dream into action in Grade 6 when he learned to play the guitar and two years later, he took singing lessons.

He plays everything from jazz to country.

“I’m all over the map,” said Holman. “If it sounds good, I usually play it.”

Holman also writes his own songs, which he hopes to put together in an album sometime in the fall.

He describes his own music as kind of pop-y but also sort of country at the same time.

“It’s definitely its own thing,” said Holman.

Gary Holman said his son has a natural aptitude for music that he’s combined with hours and hours of practise every week.

“I’m so happy for him, to see all his hard work pay off,” he said.

“He’ll play for $10, he’ll play for $100, he’ll play for free, he just wants to play.”