Denise Holt wins Cowichan Lake Idol 2020

Competition goes online this year due to COVID-19

Denise Holt sang her way to first place in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)

Denise Holt sang her way to first place in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)

Reconfigured due to a pandemic, and the final decision delayed two weeks because of technical difficulties, Cowichan Lake Idol 2020 finally wrapped up on Tuesday evening with the announcement of the top three performers.

The announcement was supposed to be made online a week and a half earlier, but ended up being done in person at the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce thanks to some technology challenges.

When all was said and done, Denise Holt claimed first place in the competition, with Kent Ball in second, and Jo Spry in third.

“It was a shock,” Holt said. “It was quite funny. They awarded third, then second, and I was the only other one sitting there, so I figured I had to be the winner. I wasn’t expecting it.”

All the performing was done virtually, with contestants submitting videos of their songs. The performers had to get through three rounds of singing, each coinciding with the dates of major events that had to be cancelled this year. The first round lined up with Family Heritage Days in May, the second with Lake Days in June, and the third with Honeymoon Bay Day in July.

Holt had competed in Duncan Idol and Victoria Idol years ago, performed with the Cowichan Musical Society, and used to participate regularly in online karaoke competitions at It had been a couple of years since she last performed, so the virtual aspect of Cowichan Lake Idol helped make the competition more comfortable.

“It was a no-brainer, being a virtual thing, because I hadn’t done it for so long. That was a huge bonus. Had I been singing recently, it would have been great to go on stage.”

Holt performed ‘Something to Talk About’ by Bonnie Raitt, ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Bob Dylan (in the style of Adele), and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect.’ All the videos were submitted with the deadline looming, so she went with songs that she found comfortable singing.

“I love country, but I didn’t pick a country song,” she laughed.

The top prize package included a first-place trophy, two VIP tickets for Thursday night at Sunfest 2021, Country Grocer gift cards and a mini tablet.

The trophy alone is exciting enough for Holt.

“I consider Lake Cowichan my hometown,” she said. “So to have a trophy with ‘Cowichan Lake Idol’ on it is great.”

Ball kicked off with his own ‘Three Toad Boogie’, followed by ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’ by Leonard Cohen and ‘Truck Drivin’ Man’ by Terry Fell. He received a trophy, a Country Grocer gift card, a gift certificate to Cassy’s Coffee House, and a Smart Watch bracelet.

Spry also opened with an original composition: ‘Walking Off the Butterflies’, then performed ‘Stupid With Love’ from the musical Mean Girls and Train’s ‘Drive By’. Her prizes included a trophy, a Country Grocer gift card, and a Smart Watch bracelet.

Fourth place went to Hayley Spackman, and Carrie Holt finished fifth. An honourable mention went to Sienna Hill-Linklater, who submitted one recording of ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley.

Organizers received positive feedback from the contestants, although some would have preferred to compete in person.

“The contestants did note that a totally virtual event meant they didn’t get to know their fellow contestants, plus they had their own struggles with lighting and recording their own videos,” said Mallory Marrs of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce. “For some of our shyer contestants, it was easier for them to perform without a visible crowd, but some of our more seasoned performers missed the crowd’s energy.”

Judges of this year’s event included Gord Roy and 2017 Cowichan Lake Idol winner Amanda Nixon. Sponsors included Country Grocer and Wideglide Entertainment.

Arts and Entertainment


Kent Ball placed second in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)

Kent Ball placed second in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)

Jo Spry placed third in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)

Jo Spry placed third in Cowichan Lake Idol 2020. (Submitted)