Hugh Boyd's Robert De Guzman wins RichCity Idol

A standing ovation—the evening's first—was all for Robert De Guzman.

The diminutive Grade 8 student from Hugh Boyd Secondary had just finished delivering his version of Beyoncé's song "Listen" to a full house at Gateway Theatre—good enough to claim top spot in RichCity Idol 2013.

The 10th annual singing competition for Richmond high school students—pitting 10 school Idols against one another in a friendly American Idol-like contest—happened Thursday (May 9). Judging by the deafening screams from teens, this year's version didn't disappoint.

"One thing I can say: eat your heart out Beyoncé," said Juliet Dizon, a music industry specialist and one of three judges in the contest. "You just took that song to a level I didn't expect."

De Guzman has been singing since age four. One of his young dreams, he says, is to become a singer.

Addressing the young man on stage, radio personality and contest judge Andrew Sosa advised the singer to take it all in. Smile even.

De Guzman obliged.

Shouts of "He's so cute!" from the crowd weren't lost on Elaine Shepherd, a Juno-award winning singer and RichCity Idol alumna who served as a judge and guest performer.

"Oh my gosh I can't stop smiling. I just want to snuggle you," said Shepherd. "You're already so good for someone so young."

Others to finish in the top-three were Jenelle Pimentel of J.N. Burnett, who sang James Brown's "It's a Man's World," and Kat Perez of R.A. McMath, who performed Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing."

Other performers: Neil Legaspi (Hugh McRoberts), Merlyn Labovitch (Matthew McNair), Deepika Anupindi (H.J. Cambie), Jasmine Bayani (R.C. Palmer Secondary), Tim Lee (Steveston-London), Nicole Pimentel (A.R. MacNeill) and Hannah Balba (Richmond High).

At this year's show, executive producer Natasha Jung launched the RichCity Idol Scholarship Fund to celebrate the event's 10 year anniversary, proceeds of which will go to the fund.

"We have spent the last nine years fundraising for various local and global charities and we wanted to bring it back to the community, who has been so incredibly supportive," said Jung.

"We have seen a lot of our former contestants and volunteers pursue careers that are a direct result of their participation in RichCity Idol. We want to enable those who have given us their time and support."

Organizers are trying to raise a minimum of $5,000 as an initial investment in the fund. For information on how to donate, visit richmondfoundation.org.


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