St. Albert singer in running for reality gold
Alex Zaichkowski makes top-six in YTV star competition
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 06:00 am
Pop singer Alex Zaichkowski, 15, is having the wildest, most insane summer of his life.
This past Monday, the judges on YTV’s top-rated reality series The Next Star whittled down the talented pool of hopefuls to six, and Zaichkowski’s name was announced.
“It’s definitely crazy and really surreal. I didn’t think I’d be picked,” says the Grade 10 Paul Kane High student.
In fact, as judges R&B singer Keshia Chanté, country sweetheart Tara Oram and label executive Mark Spicoluk announced their decision at the pre-taped episode, Zaichkowski noted that it didn’t quite register. Their words went right through his head.
“They called my name and I was kind of stunned. I didn’t think that kind of thing happened to kids.”
To Zaichkowski, winning a berth as a top-six competitor is akin to winning a lottery.
“It’s just as big for me.”
He sang Chris Brown’s With You, a pop-R&B ballad with a folky guitar-based arrangement. While the trio of judges gave his interpretation the thumbs up, they also hoped to see Zaichkowski sing with more confidence and maturity in the future.
“I’m going to need to focus,” Zaichkowski reflected.
But being a star takes more than raw talent, and the hard work has just begun. Throughout the summer, the six hopefuls work with a team of industry professionals to master an original singing style, and polish their image and stage presence.
A vocal coach, dance choreographer, hair and makeup stylists, and a wardrobe expert join forces to assist the chosen six develop stage flair and pizzazz.
Three prominent songwriters – Jeff Dalziel, Ava Kay and Ian Smith – were invited to write an original song for Zaichkowski.
There is no such thing as a typical studio day. However, the teen singer meets with varying team members for up to two hours daily. In addition, there are new and original songs to learn and challenges to overcome such as performing in two videos. And somewhere in between he fits in photo shoots and media interviews.
Producers have set the bar high and the lean singer has already discovered his footwork needs refinement.
“I can’t dance. I have no rhythm. I’m a terrible dancer. But I’ve come a long way,” he chuckles.
One of his toughest challenges has been taking direction from others.
“I’m hands-on about writing songs. I usually write my own songs, so having one person write a song for me or tell me how to sing is difficult,” says Zaichkowski.
To date, he’s written more than 100 songs.
But he is grateful to fans, at home and on social media, for their backing.
“I really appreciate the support from everyone. It’s awesome. After I was named top six, Twitter exploded. I went from not having any Twitter followers to 200 in two nights.”
Another St. Albertan, 14-year-old Yasmeen Najmeddine, had been a finalist for a top-six spot but didn’t advance.
The six finalists will be mentored for the remaining episodes. Only one receives the grand prize at the season finale on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., broadcast live from Canada’s Wonderland, a Toronto amusement park.
Starting now, viewers are able to vote via text or online at www.nextstar.ytv.com and help choose The Next Star winner. The Next Star is on Mondays at 7 p.m.