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Round 1 Searchlight 2019 standouts

Grant Lawrence

Yes, we're still in Round 1 of voting, but Searchlight is all about discovering great new artists at every stage of the contest. We hope you enjoy some of these early Searchlight 2019 favourites as much as our producers have.

Please note: none of these artists are guaranteed to move forward in the contest so please keep those votes coming! You have until Thursday, Feb.14 at 3pm E.T., to cast your Round 1 votes. The Top 100 will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Vote here.

Shopé, 'Come Wid It' (Toronto)

This Nigerian-Canadian manages to skillfully blend Afro-pop, hip hop and R&B into a fresh and extremely confident sound.

Russell Louder, 'Cost of Living' (Charlottetown)

A cool electro-dance pop song from Russell Louder, a musician, producer and party-thrower from Prince Edward Island. A star in the making. Thanks to Music P.E.I. for the tip on Russell Louder!

Daniella Vega, 'Shades of Red' (Cambridge, Ont.)

Can you believe this singer is just 13 years old? Vega has been studying music since the age of four, and it shows in a big way. What a voice, what a chorus! The next Alessia Cara?

Titus Calderbank, 'Mistakes' (Vancouver)

This stunning young vocalist entered Searchlight last year and somehow didn't get out of the first round. Listen to this song and make sure those kind of "Mistakes" don't happen again!

Reenie Smith, 'Good Girl Swag' (North Preston, N.S)

Truly a brilliant song that mixes the best of R&B, hip hop and electro-funk, Reenie Smith is a powerhouse performer that channels the best of Beyoncé and Alicia Keys into something all her own.

Dagan Harding Band, 'I Learned How' (Regina)

Dagan Harding's urgent, passionate, emo-driven alt-rock is nothing new to the producers at CBC Music. Years ago, Harding put Regina on the indie-rock map with his fantastic former band Despistado. More than 10 years later, Harding is still in fine musical form.

Grizzly Coast, 'Zuzu's Petals' (Toronto)

Grizzly Coast is the spirited musical project of Alannah Kavanagh, whose strong vocals and intriguing lyrics are backed up by her guitar playing and uplifting melodies.

Planb-strik9, 'Heritage' (Thunder Bay, Ont.)

Powerful and driven hip hop from this activist Mi'kmaq artist that champions the importance of First Nations pride, language and identity.

Kate Stevens, 'Right Choice' (Calgary)

Kate Stevens is a veteran Searchlight participant, having made it to the 2015 finals at a young age. The award-winning singer returns this year better than ever, with a catchy jazz-pop single that proves Stevens is the real deal.

Abe Drennan, 'Algonquin Sun' (Inuvik, N.W.T.)

This a rootsy folk song in the great Canadian tradition of Gordon Lightfoot, the Rheostatics and Hayden.

OXLIP, 'This Dark Hour' (Vancouver)

A pretty incredible composition, vocal take, and production from this highly intriguing singer from Vancouver.

The Hope State, 'Just Survive' (Saskatoon)

A perfect slice of darkly upbeat indie rock from singer-songwriter Taylor Johnson. Love it!

Melodic Yoza, 'Celebrate' (Toronto)

If there's a more feel-good sunshine-y song in Searchlight 2019, we haven't found it. This is just what we needed to get through the polar vortex!

Under the Rocks, 'Gone are the Days' (Kelowna, B.C.)

Check out this really great bluegrass string band from the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Great tune!

The Dadolescents, 'Work Out' (Vancouver)

Gotta give it to the Dadolescents! This group of aging dads enter Searchlight every year with their quirky, funny, Violent Femmes-meets-Homer Simpson-type alt-rock.


Searchlight 2019: vote now

Searchlight 2019: key dates

Searchlight 2019: FAQs

Searchlight 2019: the prizes

Searchlight alumna Nuela Charles nominated for 2019 Juno Award

Searchlight 2019 sponsors.