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2014-09-01 at 11:51

Nipigon's Next Star

By Leith Dunick,
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Jory Zechner would love to be the next Avril Lavigne.

The 15-year-old Nipigon student has sung all her life, but mostly for family and friends. These days she’s found a slightly larger audience and is well on her way to making her musical dreams come true.

The Northern Ontario youngster is one of six contestants left standing in the seventh season of YTV’s The Next Star, an American Idol for teens seeking out the country’s most talented young singers.

“Even before I could talk I was humming and dancing around the house. It’s just always been a passion of mine,” she said recently in an interview in Thunder Bay.

“I started taking lessons when I was six or seven and I’ve always just loved it. I would go in the music festival here in Thunder Bay and different competitions and I just loved it. People started telling me, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’

The awards followed and that’s when Jory, who wowed the judges with a haunting rendition of Serena Ryder’s What I Wouldn’t Do, started thinking she might be on to something.

Regardless of how she does in next month’s live final, Jory, who list songwriter and actress Demi Lovato as her musical hero, says The Next Star has been a great way for her to garner experience in the business, one she hopes to make a career of one day.
It may be a competition, but it’s still a lot of fun, she added.

“We all get along amazingly, because we’re all experiencing the same thing,” she said.

“It’s just amazing making it this far, being able to meet all these people that have worked in the business for so long. Dan Kanter is Justin Bieber’s guitarist. So one of the judges is Justin Bieber’s guitarist, which is crazy. There’s a Canadian Idol contestant and one of the judges works with Avril Lavigne.”

Setting out to be a star isn’t for everyone.

It just seemed natural for Jory, whose hair now has streaks of bright blue woven in, in true pop star fashion, a surprise for friends and family back home. 

The show is also a great way to get noticed, she said.

“It’s really hard getting exposure being from such a small town. Not many people really know about Nipigon or Thunder Bay,” said Jory, a finalist in the 2013 Thunder Bay’s Got Talent competition. “So it’s just amazing getting exposure on the show and having all Canada being able to watch.”

Jory says she’s been watching The Next Star since she was a “young kid,” and has always dreamed of stepping out on stage with the other contestants.

This year she figured what the heck, why not try out?

“I kind of wanted to audition ever since I started watching,” she said.

“The audition process was awesome, going through all the steps and meeting all the judges for the first time. It was nerve-wracking, but at the same time overwhelming. But it was just an amazing process and being able to be a part of it was awesome.”

Jory, set to release her first single, Up to Us, said she’s hoping her background gives her an advantage when the finale airs later this month.

“It’s amazing to have all these people knowing that I’m from a small town and saying, she’s the girl from the small town so let’s back her up and say she can do this, she can win this. It’s just amazing that people know who you are.”



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