Shak attack at Open Mic UK!
To paraphrase a little show that’s regularly on our screens, the UK’s got talent - and lots of it.
Artists like Jessie J and now Grammy Award winning Adele are clearly proof of this and there's even more emerging vocal talent yet to be discovered. The Open Mic UK singing competition aims to allow some of the promising future artists from across Britain to be showcased. I went along to the Grand Final of the competition in late january to see what the finalists had instore.
The Grand Final began with contestants aged under 16, followed by those aged 17 to 22, and finishing with the very broad over-23s category. Each contestant performed two songs each, one a cover of an existing record and another original song to showcase their songwriting skills. Judges on the night varied from BBC radio veteran Annie NIghtingale to Shola Ama.
Having gotten through a process of auditioning with thousands of others in August last year and then taking part in the Showcase Regional Finals, contestants had worked hard to get themselves a place in the Grand Final. And so, although not a full-house, there was a great atmosphere and much suspense about the competition, with finalists' friends and family present to proudly support them on the night. Throughout the packed schedule, the building was abuzz, both in and out of the main floor of the indigO2.
Personal highlights for me were contestant Beki Robinson's lovely rendition of 'Halo' by Beyoncé, and Bella Nicholas from Hampshire's super-powerful cover of 'Listen' (no Beyoncé bias, I promise!). Aside from Mrs Jay-Z, other artists that were covered by finalists were the aforementioned Jessie J as well as Wretch 32 and Rihanna. This was to be expected, if not for a key requirement of the Open Mic UK competituion being the need for contestants to be original, so it was interesting to see the finalists' take on this.
"16-year-old MC Shaq from Coulsdon was the overall winner on the night"
Surprisingly for this stage of the competition, there were a few faulty starts and off-key note-laden performances, but overrall, it was great to see so much vocal and musical talent shine through.
Before the winners were announced, judge Shola Ama came on to do a short special performance, which included her massive 90s hit 'You Might Need Somebody'. It was quite the contrast hearing her show off her honed vocal skills and talent, proving to the contestants that, for most of them, this is just the beginning of their journey as singers, and builkding up experience in the industry is vital to their success.
16 year old MC Shak from Coulsdon was the overrall winner on the night, taking home the big prize to whoops and screams from his new found fans. Sham from Brixton was also a worthy runner-up on the night.
Words: Rachel S
Images: Courtesy of Open Mic UK