By Chris Clark
Entertainers, like red wine and blue jeans, have the ability to improve with age - and Senior Star proves it.
Launched and sponsored by Chartwell Seniors Housing, the senior’s version of Canadian Idol celebrates the depth of musical talent of Canadian seniors, and shatters traditional misconceptions about “slowing down” in one’s later years.
The inaugural season of Senior Star in 2007 attracted 600 contestants and 10,000 fans. Since then, it has annually hosted more than 60 regional contests throughout Canada and seen in excess of 1,500 auditions each season.
For the past five years, renowned Canadian entertainer and Southgate native Dinah Christie has stepped up as the venerable host of the showcase program; which shines the spotlight on some of the best 65+ performers in the country.
“They just keep getting better and better,” Ms. Christie said of the talent Senior Star attracts. “The final show has never been anything but sold out. It’s all so glamorous, and classy.”
Chartwell’s Senior Star gala highlights the amazing singing and musical talents of seniors, effectively dispelling the notion that seniors can’t keep up with younger entertainers. All of the contestants possess such a high level of musical talent, it is continually a difficult job for judges to pick a winner.
Past judges have included singer songwriter Tim Louis, theatre legend Patsy Gallant, lead singer Dan Clancy from the famed Canadian band Lighthouse, and Canadian Hall of Famer and television and radio icon Gordie Tapp. Winners of the annual competition have included a 77-year-old singer from Calgary, an 86-year-old pianist from Ontario, and a 72-year-old Quebec singer, among others.
Each year she has played host to the event, Ms. Christie has been impressed with the talent, how well they are treated by their Chartwell hosts, and the reception the performers have received.
“Saying yes to hosting this program seemed like the right thing to do,” she said. “You hear the audience before you even get on stage, and they are roaring with applause. It feels good to be lauded like that.”
Senior Star proves that, despite a performer’s age and experience, talent still exists and should not be overlooked. It showcases seniors in an amazing way and, every year, Ms. Christie is astounded by the talent and quality of the performances. She is often just as impressed with the courage and passion the participants possess.
Having recently completed judging and filming for its sixth year, Senior Star has given thousands of seniors a chance to fulfill their dreams. The final gala has expanded to a two-hour special, and is expected to air this spring on Vision TV, CHCH and the CTS Christian channel.
Last year’s Senior Star aired as recently as New Year’s Eve, and Ms. Christie was pleasantly surprised with the response from friends, family and fans who caught her work on the program. It has grown to become the largest celebration of seniors’ talent in Canada, proving much like Ms. Christie herself, that talent does not come with a “best before” date.
“The talent this year blows the top off the previous five seasons,” Ms. Christie told the Confederate. “It’s just so easy to fall in love with it.”