‘Quest for the Best’ contenders speak out

The 20 contenders are set to take to the stage upstairs at Memorial Arena on Friday night to compete in the fifth-annual “Quest for the Best.”
Seven singers–Alyson Booth, Heather Mihichuk, Debbie Connon, Garry Matthewson, Graham Matheson, Tara Hakala, and Marc Desforges–will be returning to the contest this year while the 13 others are new to the competition.
Booth, who’s competed in “Quest” since its first year, could win the people’s choice award for yet another year with her take on Celine Dion’s “Where Does My Heart Beat Now.”
“She’s has a uniqueness about her voice, and stage presence,” noted Carla Booth, adding her sister has gained lots of experience since last year’s contest by singing at everything from weddings and karaoke competitions to talent shows in Thunder Bay.
One of the new faces to take a stab at the glory is FFHS student Jon Bone, who’s had previous performing experience in Fort High’s “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” as well as the Canadian music revue last November.
“I’m not going in to win, really, it’s just that I heard it’s a great experience,” said Bone, who will be performing “Brian Wilson” by the Barenaked Ladies.
“It’s a great tune. I love the band and I love Canadian-made music,” noted Bone, adding he would be playing guitar as well as singing.
Another new face will be Jessica DeGagne, a grade 11 Fort High student who may have slightly less experience than Bone in terms of public performances but is still confident in her ability to carry a tune.
“I’ve gone in the [music and drama] festival before, and sang at my cousin’s wedding,” she noted.
DeGagne will be doing her rendition of Celine Dion’s “Colour of My Love.” When she heard several of the other contestants are slated to do other numbers by the popular singer, DeGagne just shrugged it off.
“I’m still going to give it 100 percent,” she vowed.
“Part of the reason I went in the contest was because I don’t fit in,” laughed Jerry Donaldson, a family man who owns the Back Alley Bar in Emo.
He hopes to impress the crowd and judges when he performs “The Time of Your Life” by Green Day, noting he wanted to depart from the well-established tradition of past “Quest” winners who choose mainstream pop artists like Celine Dion.
Although his performing experience may be limited to jamming with a band every once in a while, Donaldson comes from a musical family background that may give him the edge Friday night.