From back burner to mainstage

Eva Turkoni was selected to perform a 20-minute session during the David Foster Foundation Miracle Weekend brunch on May 27.

Musician Eva Turkoni plays her guitar outside the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Turkoni will be performing at the Empress during the celebrations for the David Foster Foundation's 25th anniversary.

The audition instructions were daunting.

Perform songs that showcase the voice using no pre-recorded music. Instead, shortlisted musicians were invited to play an electric keyboard to accompany themselves for a panel of six judges, for a chance to perform at the David Foster Foundation Miracle Weekend.

“I’ve never had a (piano) lesson in my life,” says Eva Turkoni, one of 30 local musicians invited to audition from a list of 90 candidates. “I don’t know what I was most nervous about, the singing or the playing.”

While the the singer-songwriter has adeptly worked out the chords to some of  her songs she’s recorded and uploaded to YouTube, she readily admits she’s no performance pianist.

Even so, her playing must have passed the test. Or her big voice compensated. Turkoni was selected to perform a 20-minute session during the fundraiser’s brunch event May 27. In total, 13 local musicians will perform at the event.

“We loved her sound,” says Erin Van Zant, talent and culture manager for the Oak Bay Beach hotel, which is co-hosting the event.

“People assume I’m a pop singer with a squeaky voice, but I’m not,” says Turkoni, a petit blond, decked out in bright pink nail polish. When hearing her deep, almost husky voice, “people look at me and say, ‘that should not come out of you,’” Turkoni says.

The chance to perform at the Miracle Weekend is a coup for someone who has not been pursuing music seriously for several years.

Back in England, where she grew up, Turkoni won a scholarship for a music degree specializing in vocals, and was gigging regularly with three bands and had her own music manager.

She gave it all up, however, when she met her future husband while travelling. They moved to Victoria in 2008.

Since then, she admits, it’s been hard to find gigs, and hard to connect up with other musicians.

She’s also been otherwise occupied. The 28-year-old is a wedding planner, runs a landscaping company with her husband, and also sells her paintings.

Music has been on the back burner, but she’s adamant it’s what she wants to do.

“I would give all my companies up for that,” she says. “I know I have a talent. It’s my dream career.”

For her big show date, she’s working with a pianist and backup singer.

“I hope the show goes amazingly and I don’t forget any words,” she says.

Turkoni’s also aware of David Foster’s presence and the possibility that he’ll be scouting the next big talent.

Van Zant, however, can’t confirm this.

“He is here for the weekend but we haven’t made any promises to any of our musicians.

“But if the moons and stars line up …” Van Zant says, pausing before qualifying again that it’s too risky to make promises.

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