Saint John – Shawn Richard is the newest winner of Saint John Idol.
The St. Stephen man was crowned as the winner of the competition Wednesday evening in Saint John, at the boardwalk beside Market Square. The contest was hosted by the Saint John radio station 97.3 The Wave.
Prior to being named the winner, the top five finalists were asked to step forward. Richard’s named was called fourth, to a loud response of claps and cheers from the crowd. He was then named as the 2017 champion of Saint John Idol.
As the winner, Richard, a 2009 graduate of St. Stephen High School, received a cheque for $5,000.
Richard, son of Gail and Art Richard, said he was “speechless” the moment he was named the winner.
“Honestly, in that moment I couldn’t even hear my name,” Richard said with a laugh. “The crowd was so loud. Everyone just started hugging me, and that’s how I knew. I was speechless.”
After Richard was announced the winner, he performed a final song.
“I could barely finish my performance – I could barely get the words out, I was so excited.”
The newest Saint John Idol auditioned for the contest in the last week of June, and made the top 20.
He said though he initially felt undecided about participating in the competition, noted he “felt happy” when he was notified he had made the top 20.
“Our family had just been through tragedy, and it was tough, but I felt like I needed to get back onto the stage, and feel the music again.”
The week prior to auditions, Richard suffered the loss of his uncle, rising Charlotte County country music star, Eloie Richard.
In one of his performances during the Saint John Idol contest, Richard performed a tribute to his uncle, singing his single “Middle of the Night”, a song they wrote together.
“The theme that week was to pick your favourite New Brunswick artist, so I chose his song that we wrote together, and I played his guitar that night.
“Everyone in the crowd was singing along – everyone wore Eloie Richard shirts. It was definitely very emotional. It was special.”
Richard said from the beginning of the contest, he had an outpouring of fan support from those in the county.
As a food and beverage supervisor at the Algonquin Resort, laughing, he joked “I think the whole Algonquin [staff] was there.”
“They were big supporters every week.”
Richard described the experience as “humbling,” and said it was a feeling like none other to have such a large crowd singing along with him.
“It’s like an out-of-body experience; it’s surreal,” Richard explained. “Especially [Wednesday]. I’ve never had that many people support me before.
“It was quite humbling and also, one of the pivotal moments for me, was when I saw our mayor, Allan MacEachern in the crowd. That was pretty special to me that they came up and represented St. Stephen.”
What’s next for Richard?
“The competition definitely put me back into music mode, and I don’t want to take a break again. I’d love to take a trip to Nashville, even if it’s just for a vacation, and love to start writing again.”
Richard currently has 14 original songs he’s written. He said though country is his go-to genre, his sound varies.
Videos of Richard performing can be found on YouTube.
“It ranges to a bunch of different genres, I’d like to say country, but I sang a lot of John Cougar Mellencamp, to pop, it’s really a mixture. I don’t like to stick to just one, I like to change it up.”
Though excited to be named the winner of the contest, Richard said it has taught him valuable lessons over the course of the summer.
“My final song [before being named the winner] was “Humble and Kind”, and I chose it because I’ve learned a lot over the past summer – just to treat everyone with kindness and respect; the experience was so humbling.”