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The winner of “The Voice” – Tessanne Chin – took to the stage in Toronto Sunday night. It was a spontaneous, and remarkable, performance that raised $40k for scholarships.

How much is a song from Jamaica’s Tessanne Chin worth?

Plenty it seems, at least to some Canadians.

Toronto philanthropists Michael Lee-Chin and Raymond Chang got into an impromptu bidding war to persuade Chin to sing her first song on Canadian soil.

Chin, the winner of Season 5 of NBC’s The Voice, was being honored at a University of the West Indies fundraising banquet at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto.

She wasn’t scheduled to sing on her first visit to Canada. But some spur-of-the-moment bidding at the end of the evening generated excitement for fans of the star.

Bidding started at $1,000 by auctioneer Gordon Cressy and seemed to stall briefly at the $4,000 mark. Cressy then asked Lee-Chin why he wasn’t joining in.

Tessanne Chin, winner of The Voice, gave an impromptu performance at Toronto's Ritz-Carlton Hotel.Tessanne Chin–Tessanne Chin, winner of The Voice, gave an impromptu performance at Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

“It’s too low,” joked the billionaire, who astonished the crowd by bidding $10,000 if Chin would sing just one song.

The bid was eventually matched by Chang who is the patron of the ball. The stipulation: if only Chin would consent to sing a second song.

This was topped by Lee-Chin who offered another $20,000 if Chin would sing a third song, for a total of $40,000. For the record, that’s $13,333 per song. Proceeds go to scholarships for the Caribbean-based university system.

A flattered Chin got on stage at the Ritz ballroom, saying, “I hope you don’t mind if I sing a cappella,” since no band was present, and launched into a soaring version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

She then sang Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and then her own 2007 hit “Hideaway,” as the crowd, some who had paid as much as $2,000 for a ticket to the banquet, roared their approval.

Michael Lee-Chin

Michael Lee-Chin

Like Chin, both Chang and Lee-Chin are originally from Jamaica. The two friends were also business rivals at one time and headed up two of the biggest mutual fund companies in Canada. Chang was one of the original founders of CI Financial, while Lee-Chin used to head AIC.

Chang is also the former chancellor of Ryerson, while Lee-Chin is the chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University. Both men have donated millions to charities including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They have also been named in different years as outstanding philanthropist of the year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Chin is back in Toronto May 17 for a concert at the Sony Centre in what was supposed to be her first singing appearance.

By Tony Wong—-

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