ELLISTON, N.L. — When Erica Dunn took the stage to sing in Elliston last week, she says it was like her younger sister Heidi was right along side her, just as she always had been — even though she couldn’t be there to perform as planned.
“If I was nervous about going on, (Heidi) would always be the one to calm me down,” 16 year-old Erica told The Packet. “I kind of kept that with me.”
Heidi Dunn, a 13-year-old girl from Bonavista, died in an ATV accident July 15, only one week before the 20th Bird Island Puffin Festival in Elliston — at which both of the Dunn sisters were scheduled to compete at the annual singing competition, Peninsula Idol.
After the event, when Erica won and was named the 15th Idol in the competition’s history, she said she knew her sister would be proud of her.
Remembering her sister, Erica says, while she had her quirky ways, everyone loved Heidi.
“She always had a way of making everyone’s day.”
One of the most important parts of both sisters’ lives was music. Erica says they sang and played instruments together for as long as she can remember.
“As soon as she could play, she learned immediately,” recalled Erica. “I guess, growing up watching me play music, she wanted a part of it, too.”
The two girls practised together every single day, and often played together on stages around the area. Erica says they performed as a duo in many of their sets.
This year was Erica’s second year at the Peninsula Idol competition, while it would’ve been Heidi’s first.
She says while they were set to compete against one another, they were supporting each other leading up to the event.
“We said, ‘No matter what happens, we’re still going to keep singing together, even if one of us wins or one of us goes further.’”
They were also going to play a set together outside of competition during the festival.
After Heidi’s accident — while she thought hard about it — Erica decided to continue and take part in the competition in memory of Heidi.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done … but I know she’d want me to do it for her and keep on singing for her.”
During the competition, Erica says didn’t concentrate on the judges, or the audience, or how she might place.
She simply thought about Heidi.
Some of the songs she chose were ones that made her think of Heidi, “songs we used to sing a lot together,” she says.
She also says the support during the competition was tremendous.
The first night of the competition, all the contestants sang one of the songs Heidi planned to perform as a group.
“They were all saying, ‘No matter who wins, Heidi’s the real winner,’ and ‘We’re doing this for her.’”
Erica calls the performances “100 per cent” a tribute to Heidi. She wanted to commemorate Heidi by singing for her.
“It was to sing the songs that we always sang together and make sure her memory stayed alive.”