Searchlight 2020: meet the judges

Our panel of industry experts will determine the winner of Searchlight.

Our panel of industry experts will determine the winner of Searchlight

Zubin Thakkar is one of the judges for Searchlight 2020. (Josiah Van Dien)

We are deep into the voting rounds of Searchlight 2020, CBC Music's annual hunt for Canada's best undiscovered, Juno-ready talent. So far we've whittled our list down from thousands of entries to our top 100 list, and music fans have had plenty of say through public voting as to which artists will move forward in the competition.

All that changes when our top 10 finalists are announced on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, and our panel of celebrity judges take over to decide the winner.

Until then, you can still vote for your favourite artists to make that coveted top 10. Votes will be accepted up until 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The judges will decide which artist will win Searchlight 2020, and that decision will be announced on Thursday, March 5.

While you vote, let's meet our Searchlight 2020 judges.

Zubin Thakkar 

Zubin Thakkar, pictured above, is a platinum-selling producer, engineer, songwriter, musical director and guitarist from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. His credits include Camila Cabello, Boys II Men, Tyler Shaw, Kira Isabella and many more. 

Since 2015, Thakkar has been the musical director and lead guitarist for Grammy-nominated Canadian Shawn Mendes. Heʼs also toured the world with Mendes, playing and musically directing the star's three sold-out, headlining tours, the most recent being Shawn Mendes: The Tour.

On top of playing with the likes of John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, John Legend, Khalid, the Roots and Zedd while working with Mendes, Thakkar has extensive credits as a producer and engineer. He produced Mendesʼ 2017 MTV Unplugged album and was a vocal engineer on the Grammy-nominated song "Señorita" by Cabello and Mendes. Thakkar also produced Mendes' vocals for his collaboration with Taylor Swift on her song "Lover." 

Thakkar also composes for film and TV, and his music has been featured on many television shows (such as Netflixʼs Black Mirror) and networks such as CMT, MTV, Nickelodeon, Family Channel, CBC, YTV and MuchMusic, as well as scoring slots with the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and Tim Hortons. 

Vivian Barclay

Vivian Barclay is one of the judges for Searchlight 2020. (Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo)

Vivian Barclay is the general manager of Warner/Chappell Music Canada. She is a classically trained musician with a degree in radio and television from Ryerson University. Experienced in radio, artist management, publicity and promotion, she has composed music for television commercials and won awards for her film sound production and digital audio editing talents.

At Warner/Chappell, she works with a diverse roster of songwriters, including Jully Black, producer Lantz, Maurice Moore, Machel Montano, Barenaked Ladies, Patoranking, Begonia and the Bros. Landreth. She is also responsible for the administration of the more than 200-year-old company's global catalogue, which includes George and Ira Gershwin, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Kacey Musgraves, Michael Bublé, Murda Beatz and PartyNextDoor. 

Barclay currently sits on the boards of Music Publishers Canada, SOCAN and Phemphat Entertainment, as well as working with the Toronto Music Advisory Committee and the producers of the Honey Jam showcase.

Barclay is also active in community development projects, including Habitat for Humanity and Food for the Poor.

Allan Reid

Allan Reid is one of the judges in Searchlight 2020. (Alex Urosevic IPhoto Inc )

Allan Reid is the president and CEO of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Juno Awards, MusiCounts and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In 2016, Reid's dedication to artist development was the driving force behind the creation and success of the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class, in which the 2020 Searchlight winner will participate. Reid spent 25 years of his career at major and independent labels in Canada as the head of artists and repertoire (A&R), and was instrumental in the careers of many of today's top Canadian artists' careers, including Jann Arden, Sam Roberts Band, Sarah Harmer and the Tragically Hip.

Julijana Capone

Julijana Capone is one of the judges for Searchlight 2020. (Courtesy of artist)

Julijana Capone is the senior publicist at the National Music Centre (NMC) in Calgary, where the Searchlight 2020 winner will spend five days recording. In addition to her role at NMC, Capone is the founder of Light of Day Publicity, a company she formed to promote the work of emerging Canadian artists. Before her move to Calgary in 2014, she worked at a booking agency and was a freelance music journalist in her hometown of Winnipeg. She has also lent her time to juries for Factor and BreakOut West. 

Kai Black

Kai Black is one of the judges for Searchlight 2020.

Kai Black joined CBC Music a decade ago after a successful run as a producer on CBC Radio One's Go with Brent Bambury, and the music trivia game show Grooveshinny. In 2008, Black helped transition CBC Music from a classical network to a multi-genre one. Black's accolades include a Canadian Screen Award, a New York Radio Award and the Robert Pearson Guiding Star Award for his work mentoring people with disabilities.

Thanks to all five judges for their work in what will be a very difficult decision as to who wins Searchlight 2020.

Searchlight 2020 is CBC Music's hunt for Canada's best undiscovered talent. (CBC Music.)