St. Anthony -
"Congratulations Jamiee!" the signs read before 15-year-old Jamiee Thomas won anything. But, as it turns out, folks from the Labrador coast have a keen eye for talent - and a winner.
The L'Anse au Clair songstress recently received the shock of her life after being crowned the first-ever winner of CMT's "Karaoke Star Junior," which aired from Calgary May 19.
Thomas' rendition of "Better in Time" by Leona Lewis earned her the top spot over nine other finalists from across Canada after the votes were tallied.
The show was taped five days before it aired - five days of voting - so each of the 10 finalists had to act like they won.
"I was shaking first I was so nervous," she said. "I was sitting by my friends and I couldn't stop shaking. As soon as they said my name, everyone just jumped right up, and I got so overwhelmed, they just grabbed onto me and wouldn't let me go."
She watched another airing of the show later that night. "Then it finally hit me that I won," she said, adding she was more nervous while watching the show than while singing.
Thomas also won $5,000 and a potential record deal.
"It depends on what CMT is going to do, because we got to get PR for everything first to see if I'm going to get a record deal and if I'm going to get into the music business," she said.
Although the experience has been a whirlwind, Thomas wants to keep a steady focus on her two priorities.
"I want to be in the music business, but I want to get my education first, just in case it doesn't work out. I told the managers, 'I'd love to do this for a living ... but I want to be a nurse too'. But my first priority is definitely music," she said.
Fans of the star flooded the airstrip in Blanc Sablon to welcome her home from Calgary.
She had a hunch that her close friends might come to the airport, but the surprise came with the numbers - and the enthusiasm.
"I didn't know they were going to have a big sign," she said. "They came out on the airstrip, actually, and soon as I got off the plane they had this big sign put up that said 'Congratulations Jamiee', and they were all hugging me and everything, and I didn't even win then. It was pretty surprising, 'cause I didn't know what was going on."
Thomas entered the competition on a whim and a nudge from her mother, Sandra, and flew to St. John's for an audition in March. Her performance there earned her a Top 5 spot - from the 200 who auditioned - and a callback the following day for her first television interview, which aired on CMT May 4, when voting started.
By May 11, after the voting closed, she got the news she won the provincial competition - and that she'd soon be on her way to the Heart of the New West.
The Mountain Feild Academy student learned of the win while in school.
"I didn't have a reaction, because I was in shock, and everyone just turned around and just jumped me basically."
The following day the small town girl was whisked away to Calgary. The finalists had one day of preparation.
"I think I was still in shock when I got up there, because it all happened so fast," Thomas said. "I just didn't know how to react; I didn't have time to let it sink in."
How is it getting back into school after the experience?
"I got a lot of catching up to do in school. I sit in class and I think about what I'm going to buy with all that money," she laughed.
Thomas will perform her own songs at the school in Long Point Friday as a thank you for the support.
"People were staying up at our community centre 12 hours a day - no breaks - just voting, voting, voting," Thomas said.
"People were staying home and going down to the school and getting all their friends to vote, sending e-mails everyday. It was crazy. They're very supportive of their fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."