Singing a song of suc­cess

Les­lie Nor­man and Matthew Cooper win Rose Bowls for vo­cal per­for­mances


Many per­form­ers dream of walk­ing away from a com­pe­ti­tion with the top award, while oth­ers just hope to give it their best.

The lat­ter de­scribes two of this year’s in­di­vid­ual Rose Bowl win­ners for the 44th Car­bon­ear Kiwanis re­gional mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Les­lie Nor­man and Matthew Cooper, both 16, en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion for the love of per­form­ing for an au­di­ence. Nei­ther ex­pected to walk away with the cov­eted tro­phy. Les­lie earned the se­nior Rose Bowl, while Matthew took home the ju­nior equiv­a­lent.

The singers, both from Car­bon­ear, cap­tured the at­ten­tion of ad­ju­di­ca­tors and per­form­ers through­out the week­long com­pe­ti­tion March 29 through April 4.

Be­sides their age and home­town, Les­lie and Matthew have some­thing else in com­mon. They have only been train­ing a short pe­riod of time com­pared to some other per­form­ers their age.

Les­lie, who re­ceived her award April 10, be­gan for­mal train­ing in Clarenville four years ago. She now per­forms sev­eral dif­fer­ent styles of mu­sic, in­clud­ing opera. She is a so­prano.

Matthew was re­ferred to by one of the ad­ju­di­ca­tors as a tenor with raw talent. He has been train­ing for two years. Matthew’s style is de­rived from his love of mu­si­cals.

Both have been singing with­out train­ing since they were young, and are now both coached by Calvin Pow­ell.

Soft-spo­ken Les­lie

Les­lie may be quiet and soft-spo­ken, but she has a pow­er­ful singing voice.

“I love to sing,” she told The Com­pass af­ter ac­cept­ing her award. “Just to get up, have fun and do my best. I wasn’t an­tic­i­pat­ing (win­ning the Rose Bowl). I didn’t know I could do it.”

The hum­ble Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate stu­dent is a mem­ber of the school’s choir, she plays piano, trains once a week with her singing coach, en­joys pub­lic speak­ing and plays the so­prano sax­o­phone in the school’s band.

Even though she is in­volved in so much, Les­lie ad­mits she’s a bit bash­ful when it comes to pub­lic events.

“I’m not the type of per­son who likes to be in the spot­light,” she said. “But I do like per­form­ing.”

Matthew shines

Matthew’s mom Sher­rie Ann said from the time Matthew wakes in the morn­ing un­til he goes to bed at night, he’s singing.

The Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate choir mem­ber has been telling fam­ily mem­bers he was go­ing to be a singer for many years. When he took home the big­gest award of his life so far, he called it, “one of the most amaz­ing nights in my en­tire life.”

Matthew ad­mit­ted he was anx­ious while wait­ing on the stage for other awards to be pre­sented, but his face lit up when he learned he was the Rose Bowl re­cip­i­ent. “I am just so happy,” he said. Fam­ily sup­port Both singers have very en­cour­ag­ing fam­i­lies be­hind them.

Al­though Matthew’s dad Scott couldn’t be at his con­cert per­for­mance due to be­ing out of the prov­ince, his mom texted him through­out the night.

“We are so proud,” Sher­rie Ann ex­claimed.

Les­lie’s par­ents, Dar­ren and Cindy Nor­man, have en­cour­aged their daugh­ter to do her best.

“We just want her to be all she can be,” Cindy said. “She’s the joy of our lives. She puts her heart and soul into ev­ery­thing she does.”

The two per­form­ers are al­ready look­ing for­ward to next year’s fes­ti­val, but for now they will con­tinue to per­form with their choir and keep on do­ing what they love — singing.

Edi­tor’s note: for more cov­er­age of the fes­ti­val, see the April 21 print edi­tion of The Com­pass.

Les­lie Nor­man sang her way into the top spot of the se­nior Rose Bowl cat­e­gory of the Car­bon­ear Kiwanis re­gional mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Pho­tos by Melissa Jenk­ins/the Com­pass

Matthew Cooper is this year’s ju­nior Rose Bowl win­ner from the Car­bon­ear Kiwanis re­gional mu­sic fes­ti­val.

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