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Published March 17, 2024

'Canada's Got Talent' judges, competitors gearing up for the million-dollar season

The hosts of "Canada's Got Talent" pose for an undated handout photo. From left to right, Howie Mandel, Lilly Singh, Lindsay Ell, Trish Stratus and Kardinal Offishall. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CityTV, Jag Gundu, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

By Sonja Puzic

Canada's most high-profile talent show is returning for another season, and this time the stakes are even higher. 

Citytv's "Canada's Got Talent" has increased its top prize to $1 million, and one of its celebrity judges says that will be life-changing money for the lucky winner. 

Comedian, actress and writer Lilly Singh says the million-dollar season puts a lot of pressure not just on the contestants, but also on the judges who will scrutinize more than 100 musical, dance, comedy and novelty acts. 

The bumped-up award from Citytv's parent company Rogers is billed as the biggest cash prize in Canadian television history.

The third season of the show, which kicks off Tuesday, will also award $25,000 each to six Golden Buzzer acts, or entertainers deemed good enough to progress from auditions straight to the semifinal.

The top prize is now much higher than the $150,000 awarded at the end of Season 2 to a dance troupe from Quebec. 

"I mean this is truly life changing money," Singh said in an interview last fall, as she and the other judges -- Howie Mandel, Trish Stratus and Kardinal Offishall -- prepared to film audition episodes in Niagara Falls, Ont.  

"Someone's life trajectory could change and so the stakes are really high on both sides," she said. "We really are feeling the nerves."

This season's contestants hail from across the country, and they will try to dazzle the judges with their voices, dance moves and magic tricks, among other talents. 

Aside from the massive top prize, another thing that will be different this season is the show's use of Bollywood music. 

Singh said one of the reasons why it was difficult to get South Asian acts on stage in previous seasons of "Canada's Got Talent" were the barriers to clearing Bollywood songs for use on the show. 

She said she used her contacts at a major Indian music label to resolve a song clearance issue that surfaced in preparation for the show's new season, opening the path toward an overall deal to ensure that Bollywood music can be used on "Canada's Got Talent."

"Which is important because naturally if you can't use the music that's part of your culture, you're at a disadvantage," Singh said. "Anyone that's been following me knows that representation really means a lot to me."

The first episode of the new season, hosted by Lindsay Ell, airs Tuesday night on Citytv and will also stream on Citytv Plus. The talent competition will culminate in a two-hour finale on May 14.  

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