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Oshawa singer looks to rise above at the CNE

Kalista Wilson, 15, of Oshawa is performing at the CNE Rising Star Competition for the fourth year. The teen has made the finals of the competition every year she has participated so far.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A young Oshawa singer is hoping to finally reach the summit of the CNE’s Rising Star Competition.
Kalista Wilson, 15, will be performing at the annual contest on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
This is the fourth year the up-and-coming songstress has participated, and she has reached the finals in her first three attempts.
She is hopeful to take the top prize this year, but also to continue to improve her skills.
“[Winning the competition] is definitely something that I am working for. But I also want to earn it, I want it to be my best performance of all three rounds,” Wilson tells The Oshawa Express. “And I hope the judges can see I’ve put in the work for the past three years.”
Even if she isn’t the winner, Wilson says it will be a valuable experience to make her a better performer.
Noting her parents say she was singing before she even began speaking, Wilson says she first learned about the competition from a friend.
“I decided just to do it because I wanted to perform in front of a lot of people,” she recalls.
Although she is a veteran of the CNE stage, Wilson admits it can be intimidating.
“I get very nervous because there are almost 7,000 people walking in and out, and a lot of them stay… and the competition is very fierce,” she says. “I’m usually very relaxed beforehand, but when the emcee says my name and hands me the mic, I start freezing up. But then it goes away when I get up on the stage.”
Although she always enjoyed singing, she began pursuing it seriously at the age of eight.
She recalls a particular moment when driving with her mother.
“We were listening to Adele, and she thought ‘Hey, I think this kid can really sing,’ so she brought me to Kristine Dandavino, the creator of the Oshawa Opera,” she adds.
Since then the Oshawa teen has been perfecting her craft, also studying atthe Royal Conservatory of Music.
She was later accepted into a music and arts program at All Saints Secondary School in Whitby.
“Through that, I can really work at my art, so I can get better, and really make a career of this,” she says.
Wilson is also very active on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, sharing video performances of her vocal covers.
She performs a wide variety of genres ranging from pop to R & B, along with classical and musical theatre.
“It’s just different depending on the scenery really,” Wilson notes.
As far as influences, she names her teacher Dandavino and Tori Kelly.
“And obviously, Beyonce and Whitney Houston,” she says with a smile.
She will be performing Houston’s biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” at the CNE competition this year.
Along with her parents, she expects some of her eight siblings to be in attendance, so she will have lots of support.
August has already been a very busy month for Wilson as she just returned from a tour of Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and New York.
“It was very intense because we’d have to be in one city all day, perform and meet people, then leave and drive two to three hours to the next city, and just keep doing that,” she says. “It was a lot of no sleep, but it was a lot of fun getting to meet people and perform.”
She performed with a group she is part of, Girl Pow-r.
While she loves performing solo, being part of a group provides an extra level of support.
“It really helps calm my nerves, because I know I am in a group where we are all supporting each other and we just get to sing. So it’s not as nerve-wracking as it is when I perform solo,” she says.
Wilson is on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat under the handle @kalistasings. She is also on Facebook and YouTube.