COCHRANE — Local performer Lexi Strate is strutting her stuff on the big stage competing in a contest that could net Cochrane $50,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.
The contest called "How Talented Are You?" is put on and judged by Toronto Raptors power forward Serge Ibaka over Instagram live. Ibaka hosts a wide range of contestants and provides a platform for fans to showcase their talents and to donate to the COVID-19 relief efforts. The winner was originally going to get $20,000 but donations have brought the winnings up to $50,000.
Strate, who happens to be a huge Raptors fan said she was ecstatic when she heard she had been selected to participate in the competition.
"I’m a huge Toronto Raptors fan and Serge Ibaka is one of my favourite players," Strate exclaimed. "He had posted about the online talent show on his Instagram so I decided to submit a video of me singing and playing the guitar. They selected me to compete and so I got to go Live on Serge’s IG for a 3 minute audition."
Strate added that the audition went well and her performance pushed her to the next round that will take place on a date that has yet to be determined.
"The audition was great. I sang Valerie by Amy Winehouse," she said.
"I don’t know if I’ve ever been that nervous before for a performance. But when I looked up and saw that Serge was dancing and jamming with me I was able to enjoy the moment and have fun with it. He decided to put me through to the next round."
Being able to get the chance to combine two things she loves with music and the Raptors is something that Strate is thoroughly enjoying, she said. Strade added meeting one of her favourite players in the process is just the cherry on top.
"Meeting Serge and getting to chat with him and sing for him was definitely one of the coolest moments of my life," Ibaka said proudly. "I was supposed to attend the last two regular-season Raptors games in Florida for my honeymoon last week so that moment with Serge was a very special and happy one. The best part is that I get to do it again soon"
The local musician said she's feeling confident heading into the next round and is enjoying the support from the Cochrane community.
"I’m very excited and I hope I can contain my nerves a bit better this time," Strate said. "The ultimate goal is to win and bring home the $50,000 for Cochrane COVID relief. I want to make it as far as I can to keep sharing some excitement with friends and family and my community."
"Word is starting to get out more around Cochrane now and people are wanting to follow along with my journey in this competition and cheer me on. I’m very grateful for the support. For the next round, there might be a way for people to get more involved by voting contestants through, so I’m very hopeful that I’ll have lots of Cochranites helping me out with that."
The contest is still going through its first wave of performances but Strate will announce when she's performing again on her own Instagram page.
"The talent keeps getting better and better so I know I’m going to have some tough competition in the next round," she said. "I’ve been busy practicing at home and will be ready."