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Vancouver Island's Cameron Whitcomb a star on the rise

Cameron Whitcomb, who turned 21 in March, was introduced to North American audiences in 2022, when he shot out of obscurity and into the Top 20 on American Idol.
Cameron Whitcomb will make his Victoria debut Thursday at the Capital Ballroom. JIMMY FONTAINE


With: Pony Gold
Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates St.
When: Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $35.51 from

Network television in the United States has been very good to Vancouver Island artists in recent years, from Lauren Spencer Smith — who made it to the Top 20 on American Idol in 2020 — to dance duo Funkanometry, which advanced to the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent in 2022.

The latest local performer with a stateside pedigree is Nanaimo-raised Cameron Whitcomb, the smooth-singing country singer. Whitcomb, who turned 21 in March, was introduced to North American audiences in 2022, when he shot out of obscurity and into the Top 20 on American Idol. He was just 18 years old and living in Kamloops at the time of his audition, and professed to never having sung in public prior to appearance before the celebrity panel.

Whitcomb impressed judge Katy Perry with his acapella rendition of Waylon Jennings’s Rock, Salt and Nails, earning a ticket to the next round in the process. He failed in his bid to become one of the show’s 10 finalists, but he managed to turn his American Idol buzz into a substantial social media footprint on TikTok (1 million followers) and recording contract with Atlantic Records.

“When I got kicked off, I think that’s when this really started,” Whitcomb told the Times Colonist. “Prior to that, to tell you the truth, I was a mediocre singer. I could kind of sing, but when I got sent home, I had to learn how to play guitar and learn how to write songs. Everything has been built over the past two years.”

The hit TV show certainly gave Whitcomb invaluable exposure, but he gives credit to social media for helping him maintain a steady presence in the public eye. “I feel like there’s so many really, really talented people who don’t know how to utilize social media. If you post every single day, it’ll work. A lot of people don’t realize that they have everything at their fingertips to do what I’m doing.”

Whitcomb will perform in Victoria for the first time ever tonight, at the Capital Ballroom. He won’t have to travel far, as he’s currently living on a farm in Beaver Creek, near Port Alberni.

He was born in Peace River, Alberta, and raised in Nanaimo. At 17, he left Vancouver Island for Kamloops, where he began working on the Trans Mountain pipeline. That is when his music career unofficially started — “I was making videos of me doing karaoke on my couch,” he said — but it was also when his addiction troubles began. His time working on the pipeline resulted in struggles with drugs and alcohol, to the degree where he said he very nearly became a statistic.

“It’s an actual epidemic,” he said of the environment, in which workers use drugs to offset extremely long work weeks. “What else do you do when you work 72 hours a week? It is so real. The majority of everybody is using on the pipeline.”Even if they are not using cocaine or meth, they are drinking every day.”

Whitcomb said he feels like he escaped the grip of addiction with little time to spare, and credits finally getting sober with being a key to his carer thus far. When a casting agent with American Idol saw one of his karaoke videos on Reddit, and reached out with an opportunity to audition for the star-making reality series, he knew deep down it would not have happened if he was still using drugs and alcohol.

“Why everything has been going so good is because of getting sober. If I didn’t get clean, nothing that has been happening would have happened. If I didn’t have something to work toward, and have that reason to quit drugs and drinking, I honestly don’t know if I would be alive.”

Whitcomb has yet to release his full-length debut, but a new single about his grandfather, Rocking Chair, arrived on May 17. Two previous emotionally-charged singles, Shoot Me Dead, and The Devil I’ve Seen, which document his personal struggles, show a songwriter in the early stages of what looks to be a promising career. Whitcomb said he will do “whatever I have to do not to dig holes for the rest of my life,” and that means his learning curve must continue its upward trajectory.

“I don’t have it figured out. But as long as I continue to write songs and try to get better, there’s so much to learn. It never stops. I want to write songs that really mean something to people, and have that dream of being on stage and hearing people sing your songs. Whatever I can do to continue that ball rolling is what I’m going to do.

“Hard work brings good luck, so as long as I continue to be content with what I’m putting into this, I won’t stop.”

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