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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

OCMA hosts “A Night of Entertainment” at the Essex Legion

- the performers qualified for an international competition to take place in Tennessee -

Fifteen-year-old Tilbury resident, Hayley Doucet, was one of the many country vocalists who performed during the Ontario Country Music Association’s “A Night of Entertainment,” which was held at the Essex Legion on Friday evening.

by Sylene Argent

A full house of supporters enjoyed the Ontario Country Music Association’s fundraising event, “A Night of Entertainment,” which took place at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) last Friday evening.

  During the event, the limelight highlighted over a dozen country acts, all of which will be headed to compete in the North American Country Music Association‘s international competition to take place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in March. The vocalists had to qualify to earn a space in the international competition. The artists came to participate in the Essex-based event from all over the Southwestern Ontario, from areas like Tilbury, Windsor, Chatham, Milverton, and Petrolia.

  Janice Hunter-Desjarlais performed on Friday evening as part of the duo, the Hunter Sisters, which also helped organize the event for the Ontario Country Music Association winners. Friday evening’s event offered the artists a chance to perform in front of a large crowd, while raising funds for the trip for next month’s international competition.

  She noted all proceeds from the evening will be put towards hotel stays for the Team Ontario winners. The 50/50 draw was generously donated back to the team. Thanks to the support, she added, “We reached our goal of getting every qualifier subsidized for their stay.”   


Hunter-Desjarlais explained that each province holds provincial-wide competitions to qualify contestants for the international competition and helps to subsidize winners of these competitions.   

  “These winners will have an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of international country and gospel music professionals. They will have an opportunity to join in workshops when down in Tennessee that can help support launching a career or second one in song writing and performing arts on an international level,” Hunter-Desjarlais said.

  Fifteen-year-old Hayley Doucet was one of the many performers to take to the stage last Friday evening. Doucet, a Tilbury resident who started competing as a country singer around five-years ago, was pleased to qualify for the international competition in Tennessee for the second year in a row.

  Like last year, Doucet plans to compete in the 14-16-year old age division for Traditional Entertainer and Traditional Vocals. Last year, she won both categories and hopes to do so again this year.

  Doucet enjoys working with her professional vocal coach, Crystal Gage. She finds inspiration in the likes of the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain, but also loves this music genre’s roots that extend back to the days of Patsy Cline.

  Though Doucet admits she gets nervous when she performs, she thoroughly enjoys being in front of a crowd.

  Hunter-Desjarlais thanked event emcee Katie Curran and Dan Knight, who organized all the sound.   

She hopes to see more local talent come forward from Essex to compete for the opportunity for next year.

  Hunter-Desjarlais added that the Ontario Country Music Association hosted the event at the Essex Legion as it is, “such an amazing organization that supports our local veterans and our Essex community. It just seemed right to host it with them.”     


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