CBC Searchlight 2016 – Get to know 2 finalists – Desiree Dawson & Teo Milea

Yesterday, we gave you the chance to get to know two of the top four finalists in the CBC Searchlight competition this year, and now it’s time to meet the final two that were whittled down from over 2000 applicants, Surrey, BC based Desiree Dawson & Toronto, ON based Teo Milea.


Introducing Desiree Dawson
Hometown: Surrey, BC

First off, care to tell the readers a bit about yourself?

Well.. where to begin! I was born in Vancouver and grew up in White Rock/ Surrey BC.  I’ve been singing since I was a baby.  Literally.  My mom recently told me this story about how one time she slept in till about 8am when my grandpa had been visiting. She normally would be up with me at 6am so she woke up frantically realizing she slept in.  My grandpa had gotten up early and told her not to worry, that I was just hanging out in my crib singing sweet baby gibberish for two hours without crying for food, diaper change etc.. That story did not surprise me at the least as I am still to this day NON-STOP singing. I sing down the street, in the grocery store, at work, it just doesn’t stop.

I used to be very shy and it took a lot for me to be convinced to sing or get up on stage in anyway. The past 3 years I decided to truly listen to my heart, what it was calling for, and it was very  much calling for me to focus on developing myself as a person and therefor further developing my sound.  I’ve been on a soul searching journey that has directly effected my music in the best possible way. This lead me to getting my Yoga instructor certification at Karma Teachers Yoga  in East Vancouver. This was  a huge step in my growth.  Connecting with movements of the body and breathe allowed me to get so much closer to myself and to the people around me. It really enhanced my quality of life and therefor the way I started singing, writing and living! Within these past 3 years I started dedicating all my time to playing shows around White Rock/Surrey/Vancouver at various music venues, festivals, and restaurants.  I am a very passionate busker! Busking in Vancouver in the summer makes my heart sing with joy.  The combination of playing music all day in the sun and meeting and connecting with amazing people is EVERYTHING.  I love the lessons that come along with travelling so I try to make trips as much as possible to broaden my views and open myself up!    There’s always so much more learning and growing to do as a person and an artist and I welcome all that with the most wide open arms!

How does it feel to be in the top 4 of such a prestigious competition, narrowed down from over 2000?

It feels like an absolute dream.  I  just can’t believe I’ve made it this far and when I see the talented artists i’m sharing this top 4 spot with and the others who entered, I feel honoured and so very grateful to be a part.

What advice would you give future entrants to the Searchlight competition?

Well,  this competition has been one of the first times in my life I can say I really just let myself be unapologetically ME. I would say be yourself as much as possible.  Bring your unique sound and vibes to the table and truly let that show in your music.

What has been the highlight of being a part of Searchlight?

Hanging out at CBC with the other bands, making new friends and connections.  Learning so much from them and from everyone at CBC.  Everyone is so incredibly supportive and kind.  Its been a really magical time!!

What’s up next for you?

Hopefully winning searchlight 2016 will be up next for me. I have so many songs floating around in my journals, on my computer, in my head, and I’m so ready to start seriously recording and then heading on tour!

Connect with Desiree Dawson:

Teo Milea _ Live in Concert

Introducing Teo Milea
Hometown: Toronto, ON

First off, care to tell the readers a bit about yourself?

My name is Teo Milea, lover of good music and other beautiful things; pianist, composer and educator as well.

I started to play the piano when I was 6 years old. At first it was only classical music. I attended various national and international piano competitions across Romania and beyond: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary. In 2010 I had the chance of collaborating with the Opera from Vienna in “The Magic Flute” Opera by W.A. Mozart. I spent a good amount of time in Switzerland and Germany, where I performed in a duo-formula piano – pan flute.

Then an exploration of new musical styles began for me – rock, pop, soul, nu jazz, funk, ambient. I performed in various bands that I had set up together with other musicians. Those were beautiful projects, but the outstanding challenge was to create my own style.

In July 2012 I released my first piano solo album: ‘On white…and black keys’. This album showed me to the public through the seven songs as a pianist and a composer belonging to two worlds: the world of classic and the new world, of the 21st century. All my work is based on interpersonal relations, states and needs of modern society, passion and desire to conquer new soul territories, not yet explored.

Important milestones in my career as a classical crossover musician were my performances at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (November 2012) and at the International Ballet Gala in Dortmund, Germany – where the first soloist of the Opera choreographed and danced together with her stage partner, on my ‘Agony and Ecstasy’. (October 2013). On both occasion I was honored to be the first pianist ever invited to perform there.

In October 2015, I released my second solo piano record: ‘Open Minds’. With this album, my piano music enters a new dimension of sensitivity and perception. It is my thank you message addressed to all my fans for all the support and trust they have given me these years and also, it is a call for tolerance, joy and friendship. 2015 was also the year I wrote five songs for piano & flute.

What would there be more to say about me? When I don`t play the piano and when I`m not composing, I cook – and my friends say I do it well – and I ride my bicycle. But even then I still can compose.

How does it feel to be in the top 4 of such a prestigious competition, narrowed down from over 2000 entrants?

This is an amazing moment for me! I feel great and also so grateful for all the support of my fans. They are my friends and I love them.

These last few weeks, since entering the contest, have been such an exciting journey for me – realizing that my fans are there for me and support me every step of the way. I have been receiving messages of support from people all around the world, even from places I haven`t even got the chance to perform yet.

Being in the Top 4 made me realize even more that my music has no borders, it is an international language. Even though it has no lyrics, I believe my message is clear and reaches people, and that is all I wish for. I feel blessed for being able to do that every day.

What advice would you give future entrants to the Searchlight competition?

I would totally advise on getting into this competition. You can learn so much about yourself, about the music you make, about your fans. And what is an artist without the support of his fans, right?

And I would say: Promote! Promote! Promote! Nowadays we have so many ways to get the music to the public, so many social media platforms, the personal website etc. People need to find out about what you do, they need to discover your music and they may as well fall in love with it and support it.

And another thing I would say to future entrants is to be themselves, and not someone they are not, only for the public eye. If your music is sincere, people with resonate with it and they will follow you.

What has been the highlight of being a part of Searchlight?

I have never been part of a competition like this before so it has been a totally new experience for me. Being new here in Canada, it is my wish that my music gets to more and more Canadians and I found Searchlight as being great in reaching this goal.

The highlight of being part of Searchlight has been the opportunity to introduce my music to my new home country. Reaching the Top 4 is offering me this chance, by performing on CBC TV and being watched and listened by millions of viewers. This is an important moment and a big jump in my career. Through Searchlight I am actually living the Canadian dream.

What’s up next for you?

I am happy to say this is a busy time for me. This month I`m starting my first collaboration for a film I was invited to do the soundtrack for. I am really excited about this and I can`t wait to see the final result.

On June 4, I will be performing at the Moonlight Gala – the 50th Anniversary of the McMichael`s Art Gallery in Vaughn, ON, where I have been invited to compose a special piano piece. First audition of ‘Remembering’ will mark an important milestone in my Canadian journey, as it is the first song I write since I have moved here in Toronto.

This June I also get the chance to travel back to my native country, Romania, where I have scheduled three concerts. I miss my Romanian fans and I know for sure they can`t wait to see me play my piano for them again. My last concert there was seven months ago, just before moving to Canada.

Toronto is also on my mind and I`m working on scheduling a next concert here for this fall. But before that, I get the chance to visit and perform for the first time in Calgary this October.

And more exciting projects involving Canadian artists are developing, so stay tuned! Details will be available on my official website www.teomilea.com.

Connect with Teo Milea:

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