Fort High Idol brought performance back for students

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

It had been a long while since students at Fort Frances High School were able to assemble to show off their musical abilities, but if there’s anything that Fort Frances High School Idol has shown, it’s that the student body is as talented as it has ever been.

Held in a virtual fashion in late September, students were invited to show off their stuff by having a video of themselves performing made and then shown to the entire student body. The semi-virtual contest was organized by Fort Frances High School music teacher Lee-Ann Hines. Votes were then cast and before long a final slate of three winners were selected.

The first place winner of the talent competition was Lilly Wyder with her rendition of Cat Power’s “Sea of Love.” Second place went to Liam Dent who wowed the crowd by singing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To the Moon,” and third place was awarded to Will Richards for his performance of an original song called “Falling out of Love.” Overall there were seven students who took part in the competition.

Wyder and Dent both spoke to the Times about the event and their placing, particularly as it has been one of the first occasions they’ve had to perform in some time. While Wyder has performed in a number of different school events, this was Dent’s first public performance.

Both of the students came to take part in the contest by very different means, Wyder being approached in advance and Dent only finding out about it relatively last minute.

“Mrs. Hines had the idea and talked to me about it, so we planned how everything would be done together,” Wyder said.

“I was nervous at first, but since I do have experience singing, it just came really naturally to me.”

For Dent, the decision to take part was almost made for him.

“I heard about it on the announcements and I was considering doing it but then I decided against it because I wasn’t sure if I’d have to do something live or need something prepared,” he said.

“Then I was sitting in the hallway in guitar class and Mrs. Hines came through asking if any students from that class wanted to take part in it, because they were short a few people on the day they were recording.”

Dent said he decided to step up and take part, and recorded his video in a short time. While he said he wasn’t much of a singer, he’s used to performing through playing the piano, so that helped settle any nerves.

Lilly Wyder, left, and Liam Dent placed first and second, respectively, in Fort Frances High School Idol, a virtual competition held in late September. Not pictured is third place winner Will Richards. Contestants recorded themselves performing and then the winner was chosen by votes from the student body. –Ken Kellar photo

Both Wyder and Dent said they appreciated the pre-recorded format of the show as it allowed them to go into their performances with less stress.

“I found it made it all less difficult because there were less eyes on me than I’m used to,” Wyder said.

“I was a lot more comfortable singing on my own.”

“I’d say it definitely made it less difficult,” Dent agreed.

“If it was live I definitely wouldn’t have thought, ‘hey, I’m going to go [perform] in front of a bunch of people out of nowhere.’ The recording made it easier to just do out of the blue.”

Both of the performers shared their excitement at being able to participate in a show like this, even if it was pre-recorded and broadcast, because it helped bring them closer to the way things were before the pandemic hit.

“Being able to finally do something was really exciting because I’ve just been singing and playing guitar on my own, and I haven’t been able to share that with anybody else,” Wyder said.

“I’m really thankful I got the opportunity to share that again.”

“It’s always good to do something that would be considered ‘normal’ when we’re still in a pandemic, even though this isn’t exactly normal for me,” Dent added.