Lucas Haneman said his goal wasn’t winning the top prize, but learning as much as he could from the celebrity judges. Lucas was one of ten lucky finalists in CNIB’s The i Factor musical competition and was named the winner at the finale. The top ten were given the unique opportunity to travel to CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre for a week of intensive training that included instruction in vocals and stage presence, in preparation for the finale on August 7, 2010.
Blind since birth, and playing as well as performing since age 6, Lucas has always possessed a natural talent for the guitar. Originally focusing on styles like folk and blues, he began delving into genres such as jazz and original alternative rock as a teenager. Lucas had the chance to perform in many national jazz bands and received a CBC Galaxie Rising Stars Award in 2005 at the Ottawa International Jazz festival.
Since then he has focused on creating and performing original music with vocalist Elyssa Mahoney, with whom he received an Ontario Independent Music Award in 2008 for their song "How to Dance." Now an accomplished musician in many genres, Lucas has attended Concordia University where he received the prestigious Oscar Peterson jazz scholarship, and recently completed a Bachelors of Fine Arts with great distinction and a Jazz Studies specialization.
Well liked by both the audience and his fellow contestants, Lucas’ passion, natural talent and stage presence made him the audience favourite.
"We’re proud of him and thrilled for his success,” says CNIB’s President and CEO John Rafferty, “He is a gifted guitarist and a perfect example of what we want to showcase: great talent, perseverance and spirit all in the presence of vision loss.”
The August 7 finale was the culmination of several days of preparation and training for the contestants. Judge Farley Flex gave his time to mentor all the contestants and Terry Kelly also shared his wisdom. It was a life changing weekend for everyone involved.
A special thanks goes out to the amazing emcee Mike Bullard for hosting the evening and to Shirley Eikhard, Terry Kelly and Farley Flex for judging the event.