Penticton singer-songwriter moving up

Nikita Afonso could often be seen busking at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings or performing at other local venues.

  • Nov. 3, 2011 11:00 a.m.
Nikita Afonso busks at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on a cold October Saturday morning. But next week

Nikita Afonso busks at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on a cold October Saturday morning. But next week

Nikita Afonso could often be seen busking at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings or performing at some of the clubs and festivals around Penticton.

But now the young singer -songwriter is getting a big break, thanks to Don Grant, who teaches a guitar program out of Princess Margaret Secondary.

When she was asked by Grant whether she would like to be in a show, she said yes. But while she is just getting ready to graduate Grade 12, performing is nothing new for Afonso.

Afonso thought it was strange that Grant asked, but then he explained this wasn’t going to be a regular gig. He wanted to put on “a Nikita show” complete with a backup band and stage lighting, the works.

“Of course I said yes,” said Afonso. “How could anyone turn down an opportunity like that?”

The show, which takes place on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in Cleland Theatre, will be recorded and videotaped, giving Afonso promotional videos and material to work with as she leaves high school to begin her music career.

“She is ready to move up to the next level,” said Grant. “I am optimistic it’s going to be a good show.”

She has been in Grant’s guitar program for about two years, but her playing goes a lot farther back.

Afonso said she has been playing and writing songs since she was in Grade 5. But it was only when she was in about Grade 9 that she thought her own song writing ability had matured to the point where she wanted to sing her own songs.

Afonso will be backed up by the Offramp Ensemble, a band that features Justin Glibbery, the music instructor at Penticton Secondary, on piano.

“He and Mr. Glibbery have been great,” she said. Afonso, however, doesn’t get to just sit back and let things ride. She has to do the same work any artist would for a big show: interviews, putting up posters, basically getting out and promoting the show every way she can.

While Glibbery is performing in the show, helping back Afonso up, she said Grant will just be in the audience.

“I think he is planning to sit back and take it easy,” she joked, admitting that her instructor is probably as nervous as she is.

“I am incredibly excited and super nervous,” she said. However, Afonso has had one experience in front of a really large audience before, when she was picked out of the crowd by country star Keith Urban, to perform a duet with him for the packed house at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Grant missed that performance, but said he wasn’t surprised that Afonso was able to jump on stage and feel right at home singing with the country superstar.

“She is a really likable performer,” he said. “The stage presence is there.”

Grant’s two daughters, Belle and Grace, who perform locally as Soul Sisters, will open the show for Afonso. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, and are available at the Penticton Community Centre. Proceeds from the show benefit the guitar program at Princess Margaret.