Grand Forks singer enters contest to open for Merritt Music Fest

Local singer Amanda Thate enters contest to open the big stage at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with Thate’s current status in the contest and the corrects the spelling of Gord Bamford’s name.

Local singer Amanda Thate is currently seeking support through votes to open the big stage for the Merritt Mountain Music Festival on July 19.

As of March 27, Thate has the lead with 488 votes but there are still three days left to vote.

“This is another voting situation where it’s 100 per cent fan based and there won’t be any singing in front of judges for this one,” explained her father, Brian Thate. “So it’s basically who gets the most votes.”

Amanda is one of four others currently competing to open for the festival and is currently in the lead.

The Coal Creak Boys close behind with Alee, Steve Rivers, and Tequila Cowboys finish up the ranking, all three neck-and-neck.

Voting can be done online through Facebook, on the Merritt Mountain Music Festival page.

“Her mother and I are very, very proud,” stated Brian Thate. “Her mother, Monica, has written all of her original songs, such as ‘I’ll meet you’ and ‘Our Love’, and Amanda has done some cover songs as well.”

Currently studying social work at the University of Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, Amanda returns home every other weekend to work on creating her first creative production video.

Brian noted that his daughter is also working on recording her next album.

What she loves most about performing is when she is approached after the concert and told her songs have touched a person.

Brian credits his daughter’s career taking off after the tour with Roy Clark.

“I think it was very significant last year when she opened for Roy Clark and the response she had from the audience,” stated Brian.

Amanda agreed that the tour was a start.

“The Roy Clark tour was and will always be a highlight of my life,” she pointed out. “Roy made the effort to sit backstage, just behind the curtain, and watch me perform. It was all so surreal!”

Her favourite part of the tour was being invited onto his tour bus to visit him.

At the time, he had changed from his sparkly stage clothes and was in suspenders and an old hat.

“We talked for a long time,” said Amanda. “He asked me about my life and I asked him about his…he talked to me about the music business etc. But my favourite part was going to hug him goodbye. I leaned in and he kissed me on the cheek and then whispered in my ear, ‘Don’t you ever give up.’”

The support from the Kootenay community has been incredibly supportive, she added.

“Not only my family and friends, but people I have never met, just wanting to support local talent,” she said.

At the moment, Amanda has plans to open for Gord Bamford in Cranbrook on May 23 and the following night in Trail on May 24.

On July 6, she will be opening for Doc Walker in Kelowna.

The Merritt Mountain Music Festival contest runs until March 30 at 2 p.m, when voting closes.