Every year I urge my fellow anglos to tune into the TVA network on Sunday nights to watch the blockbuster reality show La Voix. This is the French language version of the popular US reality show The Voice. Since no Canadian English station has anything close to this, La Voix attracts both francophone and anglophone singers.
In recent years I have followed the exploits of the likes of Angelike Falbo, Beck Fiset Côte, David Marino and Hanorah (Lizzy Hanley). Today let me introduce you to Ben Alexander, 29, who made it through the first round of blind auditions and chose coach Alex Nevsky’s team. He sang the song Tighten Up by the Black Keys and now waits his opportunity to shine in the Dual round.
Like its American counterpart, La Voix features five stages of competition: the first begins with the blind auditions, then the dual rounds, knockouts, playoffs and, finally, the live performance shows.
During the blind auditions, the decisions from the musician coaches are based solely on voice and not on looks. The coaches hear the artists perform, but they don't get to see them - thanks to rotating chairs. If a coach is impressed by the artist's voice, he or she pushes a button to select the artist for his or her team. At this point, the coach's chair will swivel so that he or she can face the artist he or she has selected. If more than one coach pushes his or her button, the power then shifts to the artists to choose which coach they want to work with. If no coach pushes a button, the artist is eliminated from the competition.
Ben, whose real last name is Cardilli, hails from Pointe Claire. While he and his wife Valentina now reside in Rosemount, he still spends a lot of time at his parents’ West Island home where he set up a sound studio. To make a living he has been in a number of bands, worked on media projects, taught music and worked as a bartender downtown at McKibbons Irish Pub. He has taken a step back right now from all of that to focus his attention on La Voix.
Ben told me that he and wife actually lined up to audition a few years ago. “There were a lot of people and we grew impatient,” he recalled. “So we left and went to eat Indian food. Two seasons ago a friend of mine, Stefanie Parnell, was on the show. I went to the studio to see her in person and that is when I thought about auditioning again.”
Ben’s wife and parents were at the blind auditions where he came out confidently and conversed with the coaches in good French, no doubt picked up from his years attending Royal West Academy in Montreal West. That is where he first got the bug for music, taking up the trumpet and becoming inspired him to enrol in a three year of jazz guitar program at Vanier and then sound recording at Concordia.
“Performing live on the show was totally surreal,” said Ben. “I was confident going in there. Now that I have passed the blind auditions I hope to go as far as I can. The exposure has been fantastic!”