Maple Ridge's Iris Del Castillo performs at the PNE's Star Showdown this week.

Maple Ridge's Iris Del Castillo performs at the PNE's Star Showdown this week.

Maple Ridge singer stars at PNE

Iris Del Castillo performs at the 2014 Star Showdown

The expression third time’s a charm resonates with Maple Ridge singer Iris Del Castillo, who is back at the Pacific National Exhibition this week to compete in the annual Star Showdown amateur competition.

Although she could not remember the exact number of times she has performed at the PNE before, Del Castillo admits she has not been successful in walking away with any of the competition’s cash prizes, which range from $300 for the top semi-finalist to $5,000 for the overall grand prize winner.

This time around, Del Castillo believes she may have a winning edge. For the first time, the classically trained 26-year-old alto has abandoned her recorded back-up routine for an acoustic performance with a solo guitarist. She also dropped her initial ballad choice for the song that shows her range – fast-paced single Shark in the Water by U.K. artist VV Brown.

“I had to change my song choice a few times,” Del Castillo said.

No stranger to competition, Del Castillo, who has been competing since the age of 15, has participated in many contests and placed or won almost all of them.

In the provincial competition, Variety’s Got Talent, which is evaluated by celebrity and industry judges, and Vancouver’s PNT Idol, Del Castillo placed among the top finalists. On cruises to the Mediterranean, Hawaii and Alaska, Del Castillo was the contest winner.

And in a karaoke championship held in Surrey, Del Castillo took the second-place title.

These days, however, she describes her focus as less competitive and more individually minded.

“The best I can do is be the best I can be,” she says.

Although more relaxed in her approach to competition, Del Castillo still follows ritualistic practices during her lead-up preparation time.

Prior to a performance, she makes sure she drinks plenty of the ginger-honey tea, which her mom prepares. She also belts out her favorite songs at her church hall, St. Luke’s Parish, before she invites her mom, also a singer, to watch and critique her act.

“She gives me great feedback,” maintains Del Castillo.

Star Showdown 2014 competitors were performing in the semi-finals yesterday and finals today.