By Rick Garrick
Red Rock Indian Band’s Sara Kanutski and pianist Evelyn Davenport won the Original Class category at the 2016 High School Idol competition in Thunder Bay.
“It felt good to actually be rewarded for something that I have worked so hard on and I felt very proud of,” says the Grade 11 Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute student. “Other people actually appreciated the work as well … so it felt really good.”
Kanutski and Davenport performed one of Kanutski’s original songs — New York City Love — to win the Original Class category at the 14th annual competition for Grade 7-12 students, which was held April 15-16 at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
“I wrote that about two years ago when I was 14 or 15,” Kanutski says. “It’s all about being in love in New York City and living that experience, especially a busy lifestyle, while still being in love. I’ve always loved New York, so that is why I wrote it.”
Kanutski enjoyed performing with Davenport during the winning performance.
“She is a very skilled musician,” Kanutski says about Davenport, who also attends Churchill. “She just really knows how to play piano.”
Kanutski says the music teachers at Churchill are “great teachers”.
“They always encourage students to try new things like different instruments and to really excel at what they are doing,” Kanutski says. “I take a vocal class and (the teacher) always wants us to try new things, reading music, doing things we are not really comfortable with, which is good.”
Kanutski says the vocal class students are also taught about basic theory, repertoire and the different musical eras such as classical, romantic and baroque.
“I’m more like an independent artist where I just write music and sing,” Kanutski says. “It’s hard for me to get into the theory side of it, but (the teacher) shows me the importance of it and how it can help in different situations. Obviously, anything that is contributing to my singing and music is going to help me.”
Kanutski also took vocal coaching from an opera singer for about eight months.
“I wanted to get some different perspectives,” Kanutski says. “I did about eight months with him but I really like sticking to my own style and what I want to do with my voice.”
Kanutski first got interested in music by listening to her father Ron Kanutski, who used to sing in their home.
“I always loved to sing along with him,” Kanutski says. “And then I started watching Hanna Montana and I saw her singing on stage, and I was like I want to do that. I started singing when I was younger and I always loved being on stage and getting attention from other people.”
Kanutski usually gets her ideas for songs from her own or other people’s experiences.
“I usually write late at night, so I’ll just get inspiration from a friend’s situation or maybe my situation,” Kanutski says. “They usually have to do with love.”
Auditions for the competition were held on April 15, with the finals held on April 16. The two musicians also finished third in the Open Class 1 (with live accompaniment) competition.
Kanutski previously finished second in the 2014 High School Idol competition. She also won the adult-age So You Think You’ve Got Talent competition at the Intercity Shopping Centre in Thunder Bay about five years ago.