Each musician’s path to success is different.
For some, like Winnipeg Folk Festival performer Skylar Bouchard, that path starts in the Stingray Young Performers program.
“[I] was elated when they chose me to be a part of the program as I’ve been going to the festival for close to a decade,” said Bouchard.
Approaching its 18th anniversary, the Stingray Young Performers program has been a launching point for many budding musicians, including Roger Roger and Micah Erenberg, who are also on this year’s lineup.
“Every mentor had such different lessons to teach,” said Erenberg, who has played in the program for four years.
“Afie Jurvanen [Of Bahamas ] told me to buy an old tiny tube amp when I was 16 and it’s still my main amp.”
Out of the hundreds of applicants submitted, only 32 were chosen for this year’s program. The musicians work with mentors through workshops to develop skills and practice songs. Mentors this year include Harrow Fair, the LYNNeS and Fortunate Ones.
The mentoring sessions take place at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg. The young musicians are separated into groups and meet with their respective mentors.
For first-timers in the program, it can be a lot to take in.
“It’s been a wonderful experience already and I haven’t even performed yet,” said Ezi Margolis, who will grace the Shady Grove stage for the first time.
“The staff on board are very professional and I truly believe this program can propel an artist’s career if they take full advantage of the program.”
Even some of the more seasoned Young Performers are excited to be back in the program.
“What keeps me applying every year is the amazing group of people the program brings together,” said Olivia Lunny, entering her fifth year.
“Through [the program] I have connected with so many wonderful musicians who I still keep in contact with today.”
Despite different styles and sounds, one connection between each Young Performer is their love for the festival.
“There’s something about being in such a loving, uninhibited environment paired with the ability to see some of the world’s best performers that really inspires the creative process,” said Bouchard.
“It brings people together through the universal language of music,” said Lunny. “I always look forward to wandering around the grounds and meeting new people.”
The 2018 class of Young Performers performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival Friday.