A Nechako Valley Secondary graduate found himself and his guitar under the spotlight of a popular German talent show last week.
Norm Strauss, a singer and song-writer who had graduated from Vanderhoof’s high school nearly 40 years ago and now spends his time each year touring Germany and the Okanagan, advanced to the second round of The Voice Germany on Oct. 30.
He performed a rendition of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Into the Great Wide Open” at a blind auction, and judge Stephanie Kloss turned her chair before he entered the first minute of the song, allowing Strauss to stay in the show.
At the end of the audition, Kloss said that she made her decision from “the gut,” according to Strauss’ translation.
“I could immediately hear in your voice that you are someone with a lot of experience, that you are secure in who you are and your place in life and that you have come onto the show to see where your voice can go here. For this reason I would have the motivation to work with you…Welcome to my team,” said Kloss in German.
When the organizers first contacted Strauss by email in May, he thought it was a scam, he said.
He finally called them back after some investigation, including contacting past contestants about their experience, and had asked why he was picked — as most participants were the age of his children, Strauss said.
“I don’t even have a cool haircut,” he said, and the company had expressed that it’s precisely his experience that they wanted to diversify the show.
He finally decided to participate not only for his career in Germany, but also as a spokesperson for a humanitarian project in Romania that offers education and medical services to rural regions.
Though his increased exposure meant more work — including his struggles with German interviews —Strauss said he found the experience supportive as the show focuses on encouraging the contestants for their musical talent.
Growing up with music at home — his father had directed a church choir in which his sisters had sung — Strauss had started with drums while his brother played guitar in band, and had first tried his hand at the guitar when he started work in logging after graduation, his sister Marg Thiessen said.
“Music was always there.”
Strauss will appear in the second round of the show this Thursday.
A clip of his first round can be found on: www.the-voice-of-germany.de/video/56-norman-strauss-into-the-wide-open-clip