f you’ve seen the headlines already, those of you well-acquainted with our contest may have been thinking that “Heather Russell seems awfully familiar” to you. You’re right! Heather Russell sang at our Final last year.

She was introduced by her manager at the time, Zack Werner (formerly of Canadian Idol) and she performed her own composition, “Beautiful”, backed by her father, professional musician, James Russell. Her mother is Monica Cidade who is not only a former contestant but last year’s official vocal coach.

On February 14, MSNBC played a YouTube video of Heather singing one of her songs, “She Needs Love”.

Newspapers around the world have picked up on it and are confirming that Heather has been signed by Simon Cowell’s record company Syco Music.Comparisons between Heather and Justin Bieber are easy to make… they’re both very young, both from Canada, both have become world famous through the use of YouTube and they both know how to sing. The comparisons to Mariah Carey are also justified. Mariah Carey’s amazing vocal acrobatics set her apart from most professional singers and Heather’s ability to sing circles around a musical phrase are also extraordinary. Heather registered to be a contestant in the 08/09 season along with her mother, Monica. John was so excited when he heard Heather sing and so disappointed when he realized that, as an 8 year old, Heather couldn’t compete. The rules stated that only children 10 and over could enter the contest. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t change the rules halfway through the contest but he sure as heck changed them for the following year! He encouraged her to go ahead sing at the practices that she would accompany her mother to. Heather comes by her talent honestly. Not only is Monica a singer but Heather’s father, James Russell, is an accomplished musician and songwriter, most notably as having been part of the very successful rock duo, Acosta/Russell.


John knew Heather was good but when we saw her singing her own songs on her webpage, we knew there was something extraordinary going on. We asked her to perform at last year’s Final not simply as some sort of favour to Monica but out of that sense of responsibility that one artist should have for another particularly when the other artist has yet to make a name for themselves. We felt Heather was outstanding and if there were any way we could help her along her path, to help her gain more stage experience, to gain exposure, we were more than happy to do our part. Her performance at the Final wowed the crowd but obviously that was merely a shadow of things to come… We remember how overjoyed Monica was the day she told us that Zack Werner had agreed to manage Heather. Within a very short time, thanks to Zack, Heather had garnered the attention of several well known music producers. She “settled” on Rob Fusari, aka the man who “made” Lady Gaga. Rob produced a demo for her which would make it to the ears of the one and only Simon Cowell. As many of you know, Simon, who heads the massively successful Syco entertainment company, left American Idol to focus on bringing his hit British television show The X Factor to the U.S. He also runs Syco Music. Expect to see Heather this September on another Syco production, America’s Got Talent, being introduced by Simon Cowell as his newly signed artist. Can’t wait! We are so excited! We hope you’ll join us in wishing Heather and her family all the best. They are surely embarking on an incredible adventure. We pray that this new life will bring them much happiness and that the stresses of celebrity will be gentle to this wonderful family.