Aashika Reddy will take to the stage at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) this month as part of the Rising Star Competition.
The 14-year-old singer from Newmarket was selected to take part in the competition alongside other young people aged six to 21. It starts Aug. 19, with the finals taking place Sept. 4.
"Rising Star is actually the first competition that I’ve been performing in, so it’s different. The nerves are different," she said.
While this is her first time competing, she is no stranger to singing.
"I’ve just had a passion for it all of my life. Like, I would sing nursery rhymes all the time when I was like a toddler. So, it’s always been with me," she said.
Reddy is also comfortable performing in front of a big crowd, having been a part of the Juno-nominated girl group Girl Pow-R. During her time in the group, she said she probably performed 250 shows.
"I was in the band for about two to three years and we did a bunch of shows everywhere," she said. "It was a great experience. It’s basically what helped me really get into the singing industry because I didn’t know anything about it before. And it taught me a lot. So, I’m very grateful. I’m thankful that I was a part of that."
Reddy left the group to focus on her solo work, which has included writing and recording her own song and a number of covers. This month she is busy rehearsing for Rising Star. Despite all her experience, she is still nervous to compete.
"It’s definitely nerve-racking every single time. The nerves really never go away. But it’s just once you get on that stage, you just forget about everything and you’re right in the moment," she said.
For the competition, she is planning to sing I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston.
"I love Whitney Houston. I love her songs, and when I first heard that I was going to be competing in Rising Star, that’s the first song I thought of," Reddy said.
This will be the 35th anniversary of the competition and its first time taking the stage in two years following the CNE’s pandemic hiatus. The CNE runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.