It’s a global talent search that launched a thousand dreams, including that of Australian-Filipina singer Veronica Monro who made it to the first round of ‘Avon Voices’ after singing an Aretha Franklin classic, writes MICHELLE BALTAZAR.
You could hear her squeals of delight from a block away: Veronica Monro, a Sydney-based singer and vocal coach was jumping up and down after reading an e-mail from the team behind Avon Voices, an online singing talent search launched early this year.
Veronica, or ‘Vee’ to many of her friends, was one of 200 women selected for the first round of the competition, judged by a panel that includes Philippines’ own legendary artist, Lea Salonga, Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and Australian songbird Delta Goodrem.
This was no ordinary feat: her short 29-second video clip singing (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin stood out from more than 7,000 entries received by the judges (See her audition clip here).
Vee said she couldn’t stop screaming for half an hour after she read the e-mail, which told her a plane ticket is on its way for her to go to Hong Kong to shoot her Round 1 entry (Vote for her here).
“I don’t know if it was getting further into the competition that made me so excited, or the thought of traveling to Hong Kong for a mini-working holiday that made me so happy!” she said.
A short break would certainly come in handy. Vee runs a busy household with husband Lee and two young children, Phoebe and Miles. She manages her own business as a music teacher, giving voice lessons to the young and old from her home studio.
As if family and work commitments weren’t enough, Vee also volunteers as a host for community radio (www.radio2rdj.com) and performs when she can.
But the Hong Kong ‘holiday’ turned out to be a mix of business and pleasure.
“I had to mostly be in ‘work and performance’ mode, but we were treated so well by such a nurturing team of producers,” she said.
“There was no ’show business’ to it. It was very much for the cause and the women I met while I was there had some amazing stories to tell.”
Vee said she found out about the contest through a random Google search for singing opportunities, many of which she forwards on to her students and clients – but the Avon Voices competition hit a chord. Part of the proceeds from the song the winner goes on to record will go towards supporting women.
“I was touched by the philanthropy behind the search. It was open only to women, from any part of the world, in a bid to raise awareness for women’s issues such as breast cancer, violence and abuse,” she said.
The talent search also appealed to her not only because of the charity but also because the winner gets to perform and record a song written by one her childhood idols, Diane Warren, who composed hit songs such as ‘How do I Live’, ‘Unbreak My Heart’ and ‘Have You Ever’, among others.
“Growing up, I have sung and trained using her songs numerous times and to perform one of her songs for such an important cause would be an honour.”
But to get there, Vee has to attract as many votes as she can. The Round 2 and, ultimately, the top 25 finalists, will be chosen based on a combination of the public’s vote and the decision of Avon’s judging panel.
Round 1 closed this week (May 24) and we wish Vee the very best of luck!