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BEHIND THE SCENES: Blind River student earns national recognition with golden voice

SooToday's Alex Flood takes us behind the scenes

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on's Alex Flood, whose story 'Blind River student earns national recognition with golden voice' was published on Jan. 24.

Below is the full story, in case you missed it.

Meghan Raddon can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been singing.

That’s why the young classical singer from Blind River was thrilled to learn she had received the gold medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for recording one of the highest marks in Canada in Level 7 voice.

“I was not expecting it,” she told SooToday. “I didn’t even know the award had existed. I was very pleased with my exam results, and the examiner gave me some great feedback. I think I appreciated that more than the award itself. The feedback is what makes the difference in your future for singing.”

The Grade 12 student says she first discovered her passion for singing as a young girl when she attended church and performed with her family’s worship team every week.

“I’ve loved singing with my family over the course of my life,” she said. “It’s been such a big thing for us. Singing at our church was really important for me as a kid, and it grew me to love music because it was so connected to my faith.”

Despite the positive vibes, Raddon admitted that the opportunities to develop her vocal abilities were relatively limited in a town of just 3,500 people.

But her family and friends knew she had a special gift that needed to be amplified.

“I’ve always been told I have a pretty voice,” she said. “When I was younger, my mom used to say that she never had to look for me because she could always hear where I was; I was always singing.”

In 2020, Raddon began taking professional lessons for the first time in her life at the Algoma Conservatory of Music in Sault Ste. Marie.

Although there was some hesitancy going into it, the young soprano is beyond grateful for taking that consequential step just shy of four years ago.

“Before I took voice lessons, I thought, ‘I’ve been singing all my life, I don’t think there’s really anything extraordinary in learning new things about it.’ But then I started, and I realized there’s so much I didn’t know,” she admitted. “It opened up so many new possibilities for me.”

Studying with Dr. Carolyn Hart, a prominent voice instructor in the Sault, Raddon is blown away by the new heights her vocal talents have reached throughout her teenage years.

“I’ve learned a lot over the past four years; my voice has developed so much,” she said. “It’s really amazing to be able to learn from these incredible teachers. They just have so much knowledge to share, and I’m really loving how I’m learning new things about voice all the time.”

This past year, Raddon had the opportunity to take the Level 7 practical exam in front of an examiner from Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. She sang four pieces of work, including ones from the Baroque period (Italian) and Romantic period (German). She also performed a musical theatre and a contemporary English piece.

Additionally, the exam included a variety of vocal techniques, ear training tests, sight reading, and rhythm tests.

“They test you on things you learned over the course of the year through the Royal Conservatory of Music syllabus,” she explained. “It’s really cool.”

Several months later, Raddon learned she had not only passed the exam with flying colours, but that she won the gold medal after earning one of the highest grades for Level 7 voice in the country.

It’s safe to say those weekly road trips between Blind River and the Sault for vocal lessons had paid off.

“I was pretty excited when I received the email,” she said. “My parents and sisters have been very supportive of my studying, and my grandparents on my dad’s side were the ones who told me I should probably take voice lessons to begin with. I’m really blessed to have such an amazing family.”

Now a Level 8 student at the Conservatory, Raddon is planning to study voice when she begins university this September. She has applied for a Bachelor of Music degree at a trio of schools: Wilfred Laurier, Western, and Redeemer University.

“I’m going to do auditions there soon,” she said. “The first year is always general music, so you learn a wide span of things. In second year, you specialize into things like performance, composition, education – things like that. I’m not sure what I want to do in terms of that, but that’s what I would be applying to.”

“Dr. Hart has been really supportive of my choices and very encouraging in what I’m looking for and what I should ask the universities,” she added. “It’s still very new to me, so I don’t really know what there is in the music industry that I’m looking for, but she’s been very helpful.”

Whether she’s performing around the world with a major opera company like so many of Dr. Hart’s former students, or going after the Associate Diploma with the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT), Raddon feels the sky is truly the limit in what her future may hold.

“I have a lot of ideas and dreams, and I think those things will be polished out when I go to school and figure out what there is and what I’m good at,” she said. “Part of me wants to try everything, but the other part of me knows that’s impossible.”

“I consider my voice a gift, and I think it’s important I steward it well, which means learning, developing, and taking care of it,” she added. “I’m excited to see how my voice will develop over the next 20 to 30 years.”