Two young talents from Langley are in the running for stardom the likes of which has made Michael Buble famous.
Pre-teen singer Abby Hansen of Fort Langley and yo-yo master Alex Skelly of Walnut Grove, are among 10 kids - selected out of some 350 contestants from around the province - to compete in this weekend's PNE Star Showdown - the same show credited with launching Buble's career.
Abby, 12, is singing her heart out this week, in anticipation of Sunday's semi-finals.
She's admittedly nervous: "But I'm also very excited," Abby told the Langley Advance.
This is the first talent competition she's ever entered, in large part thanks to the encouragement of her voice teacher Liana Savard.
"Liana had competed in the past and thought it would be a good experience for me," Abby said, noting that she's actually been singing for years.
"I've always loved to sing," she said, but didn't started singing in front of people until she was in school. In Grades 1 and 2, she was picked to sing solo at school concerts and assemblies, then moved on to singing in musical theatre, her voice even landing her a role as Annie.
Now that she's being homeschooled, she sings mostly at recitals, her church, and during her weekly voice lessons at Langley Community Music School.
She sees talent competitions as a new venue to test her voice, loving a wide range of music but being partial to pop and show tunes.
Abby apparently comes by her musical inclinations naturally, pointing to many family members who share her passion for performing.
"My grandma plays the violin, my mom plays the piano, my grandpa plays mandolin, my uncle plays guitar, and my great-aunt Gail was a wonderful singer," she said.
Only entering Grade 7 next month, Abby said she has yet to figure out just how music will fit into her future.
"I don't know what my career will be. I'm only 12! But I will always be singing," she said, adding: "I love music, musicals, and musical theatre. My dream is to try everything that I enjoy. I would love to be a pop star, an actress, maybe even perform in a musical on Broadway."
For now, she said her focus is on performing a Miley Cyrus song, The Climb, at the 2012 Showdown.
"Singing at the PNE Showdown is a great honour, and I hope it will be a lot of fun," she said.
Fun is exactly what Alex is looking for out of this weekend's Showdown.
The Grade 6 James Kennedy Elementary student hopes to wow the PNE audiences and the talent show judges with his "eyepopping yo-yo abilities" [He's got the world on a string, May 31, Langley Advance].
"I think it will be fun. I don't usually get nervous- I'll do my best and hope to do well in it. I hope people like the music that I play during my performance," he said.
Alex's skills with the yo-yo became wellknown locally this spring when he made it into the finals of the second annual Langley Has Talent competition.
He said he had so much fun during that contest, and his subsequent appearances on Global TV's morning news, as well as Urban Rush, and Paul Anthony's Talent Time, that Alex wants to continue being part of shows and contests.
Admittedly, the 11-year-old said the yo-yo is all about fun for him, but can't imagine his life without the toy.
Yo-yoing is a skill he only picked up about two years ago. He recounted how he was given a typical wooden yo-yo for Christmas and was content to play with it - like most kids - for a short time.
Unlike other kids, however, he didn't just set the toy aside. Instead, he went on the Internet to see if there was more he could do with the yo-yo.
He was amazed to discover a whole community of people who shared his passion for playing with yo-yos - not just with the old wooden ones he was aware of, but high performance aluminum yo-yos that are designed to spin faster and longer.
There's no local yo-yo school Alex can attend to help hone his skills. So, while he picks up new tricks and techniques from YouTube and friends in a Vancouver yo-yo club, much of his talent has come from endless practising.
"I practise an hour or more a day, really just having fun with it," he said. "Sometimes I practise for three or more hours a day and always have a yo-yo in my pocket at all times."
Alex is contemplating becoming an industrial engineer one day, but hopes to design yo-yos on the side and doesn't ever anticipate losing his love for the yo-yo.
These two Langley talents will compete in the semifinals Sunday, vying for the $300 first-place prize in their age categories and a chance to compete for the $5,000 grand prize being awarded to the best overall out of the kids, youth, and adult categories who will compete in the finals on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
The semi-finals and finals are held at 2 p.m. each days (Aug. 18, youth; Aug. 19, kids; Aug. 20, adults; Aug. 21, finals) on the WestJet Concert Stage in Central Park at the PNE.