Calling all sopranos, altos, lounge singers or rocker wannabes for the inaugural edition of Cree Idol! Whether you can sing or only think you can because you sound really good in the shower, Cree Idol wants you!For a meager $20, contestants can sign up for the latest version of the hugely popular ‘Idol’ competition and try their luck at winning the grand prize – an all-expenses paid trip to Montreal on March 17 to battle it out for Canadian Idol supremacy.

“It came about from friends and family,” explains Stan Kapashesit, co-owner of Solstice Productions. His company, along with the Moose River Broadcasting Association are holding the contest March 2-3 at the James Bay Education Centre in Moosonee. They will be footing the winner’s bill along with Air Creebec, who will fly the winner to Montreal from whatever community they live in.

“The popularity of Canadian and American Idol is very strong in most of the communities that I visited,” Kapashesit continued. “It came from, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to send somebody to audition for Canadian Idol,’ and from there we just took it to the next step.”

Kapashesit is hoping for crowds in excess of 400 people for the two-night competition. Admission at the door will be $5. Contestants from 16-28 years old are welcome to take part.

“A lot of the time these performers are either first timers, or they just play locally in their community,” said Kapashesit. “There are a lot of talented musicians I’ll tell you. I think by doing this it will maybe open their eyes to the possibilities that are out there. You don’t just have to stay home to sing. If you want to take the chance, we’ll support you and send you down to Canadian Idol.”

The Nation spoke with Mistissini’s Isaac Mianscum, who has tried out for Canadian Idol the last two times it was in Montreal. Although he’s taking a break this year and will not be entering Cree Idol, he thinks that the winner of this competition can go further than he did.

“I think it’s good for Natives,” he said. “It’s a new step for the Cree people.”

When Mianscum tried out the first time, in 2004, he made it to the second round, before the judges. His advice to aspiring Cree Idols is to be calm.

“Just be yourself and have confidence in yourself. Humour is good too,” said Mianscum, who continues to sing at gatherings and social functions in his hometown.

Kapashesit is excited at the possibilities this competition creates for northern youth.

“We want to send a deserving Cree musician so they can get the exposure and mainstream opportunities,” he said. “And we hope to continue this into the future years and to keep the ball rolling for as long as Canadian and American Idol is popular.”

Solstice Productions is willing to work with the winner as they are now branching out into artist and event management. Unlike Canadian and American idol, however, it is not a prerequisite for the winner of the event.

One prerequisite is that entrants must be of Cree ancestry.

“Hopefully, it encourages them to think outside of the different careers that are out there. A lot of people in the north don’t think of music as a career option. Some dabble in it and have fun with it when they do it up here, but they should realize too that it is possible to make a career out of it and go on to recording contracts and selling records and MP3s,” he said.