Published on November 29, 2013 | by Mark Onufer Photography by Courtesy Jake Feeney0
Jake Feeney: an Etobicoke talent to watch
An Etobicoke School of the Arts graduate has won the RBC Emerging Artist contest, propelling his opportunities to new heights.
Jake Feeney, an 18-year-old Etobicoke resident, has been surrounded by music his entire life. “My dad is a fairly established country music producer, Joel Feeney, so music was always around the house,” he said. “I picked up piano when I was about eight years old and kind of did it for fun… then in Grade 9, I started playing guitar, singing and writing songs.”
Feeney has been making music ever since and recently won the opportunity to play in front of some important people by winning the RBC Emerging Artist contest.
“My principal at my school pulled me in to his office one day and said ‘Jake, I found this contest for musicians where you can win $1,000,’ and said I should enter.”
Without knowing too much about the contest, Feeney made a 90-second clip of himself playing guitar and singing along to a version of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which he had previously recorded, and sent it in as his submission.
What Feeney didn’t know was that he needed to be recommended by somebody in order to enter. This “somebody” happened to be his principal, Rob MacKinnon.
“Jake was a regular contributor to our once-a-month drop-in arts show, ‘Miscellaneous,’” said MacKinnon. “He was always well-rehearsed and played and sang cover tunes as well as original compositions. His quiet energy was engaging for everyone in the audience and whenever he would go up, the chatter would go down and the cameras would come out.”
After submitting his audition tape, Feeney continued with his daily life and let his contest submission fade into the background of his mind, until he received an e-mail letting him know he was chosen as a finalist.
“I was in school when I read the e-mail and I just kind of freaked out,” he said. “It was very exciting, kind of unbelievable really. I was very surprised and honored.”
Along with several other finalists, Feeney had to prepare an original song to play at Canada’s “Walk of Fame,” which draws crowds of over 7,500 fans and about 1,000 local, national and international guests every year.
The taped show is set to air in mid-December, but you can find Feeney’s first eight-song EP at Jake Feeney Bandcamp. The EP is titled “Imbued” and consists of all his original songs.
Feeney also has his own YouTube channel, where he posts videos of both his original songs and covers including those of his main inspiration, John Mayer.
Now that Feeney has graduated high school, where will his musical talents take him?
Feeney intends to spend the next year saving some money, boosting his musical theory background and exploring some other opportunities within the music business. He is keeping his eye on Berklee College of Music in Boston, which he hopes to attend in the near future.