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    Categories: Entertainment

Local girl wins big on talent stage

A 15-year-old St. Albert performer is riding high.

Hailey Benedict is the Grand Winner of Big Valley Jamboree’s 2017 ATB Homegrown Talent Stage.

Twelve finalists competed for the title on Sunday, Aug. 6. Benedict walked away with gold singing two songs – the upbeat Crazy and She Thinks.

Nearly two weeks ago on July 28, the St. Albert singer-songwriter was named the youth category winner for with K-Days 2017 Talent Search.

For Benedict, who was also the BVJ Youth Winner in 2014, this new accolade is a substantial feather in her Stetson.

“Both were great opportunities and experiences. K-Days was a talent search. Anybody could compete. Instead Big Valley was all singer-songwriters,” said Benedict.

“But Big Valley was a dream of mine ever since I was nine,” the year she first competed at the Camrose three-day country party.

One of the winning perks was opening for Jason Aldean and Chris Young on the Main Stage. From the outdoor stage looking out, she estimates about 15,000 country fans sat in audience during her set.

“It was crazy. It was so cool. It was an endless sea of faces. It was overwhelming, surreal and exciting.”

The aspiring artist also enjoyed a few special moments meeting Canadian luminaries such as Gord Bamford and Adam Gregory.

But what made the country marathon weekend complete was once again meeting up with Keith Urban, the featured headliner on Saturday night.

Benedict first met Urban during his Rogers Place concert in Sept. 2016. She was a fan sitting on the arena floor waving a glittery, guitar-shaped poster to get his attention. He spotted it and invited her on stage.

“At first he didn’t remember us. But then when we started talking he remembered and gave us the biggest hug. He was so great.”

She described the music-filled weekend as “a dream come true.” Next she will concentrate on writing more songs and recording.

“Maybe someday I’ll be on the stage as a headliner.”

On another happy note, Sturgeon County’s Cayenna Pisani was BVJ’s under-12 Youth Winner.

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.