National singing success for Anna

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Hambrook teenager Anna Foye is celebrating Open Mic UK success after wowing the judges in the competition’s national grand final at Birmingham’s NEC at the weekend.

Anna, a year nine student at Bishop Luffa in Chichester, was named third overall in the under-16 category in a contest which attracted thousands of entrants.

Chris Grayston, who set up the competition which has so far helped discover talents including Jacob Banks, Birdy, Lucy Spraggan, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley and Jahmene Douglas, is clear: “Anna has definitely got a career in music if that’s what she wants to do.”

Chris said he was particularly impressed with her originality: “She did her own song, and she engaged well with the audience.

“She actually went on first. We did it in alphabetical order, and she was leading for a long, long time. It was only towards the end that a lad came on and knocked everyone else aside, but she was ahead for a long time, and usually with people performing first, the judges are all a bit cautious with their marks. She did really well.”

Anna, one of the Chichester Music Academy students who helped launch last year’s Festival

of Chichester on the Cathedral Green last summer, impressed the judges in the under-16s category at the regional final just before Christmas with one of her own songs All You Have To Do.

“I did the same song in the final. I worked on it more and developed it and gave it more depth. I progressed it more as a song. I wrote it a couple of months ago,” says 13-year-old Anna. “It is not really based on personal experience. I am only young. I don’t actually have a lot of experience! But I just like to imagine what things would be like. It’s really about someone leaving someone they cared for.”

Anna’s prize is to be invited to do a showcase for industry professionals on February 6 in Southampton, but Anna’s keeping her feet on the ground as to where it all might lead.

“I don’t really want to get involved in things like management. I am still quite young. But I would like to think it might lead to more gigs, more opportunities, more things like that.

“(At the grand final) I just thought that it was my last opportunity, that I had to make it count, that I had to put absolutely everything into it and do something really special to impress the judges. And I suppose it just paid off.”

Anna started playing the piano at the age of about five, but it’s only in the past few years she has started to take her music more seriously: “I just enjoy it so much and feel so passionate about it. People have different talents and different skills. I just love doing it. I don’t feel nervous at all when I am performing. It is just what I want to do. It’s the thing where I feel most comfortable.

“The Chichester Music Academy have been a very big part of it for me. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have done without their support and encouragement. I would not be where I am now. They have given me the confidence and an understanding of what I am as a musician and what I am as a person. I just feel that this is all I have ever wanted to do ever since I was so young.”

Anna battled against more than 9,000 acts who entered for Open Mic UK this year across the UK, winning through both regional and area final heats to make it to the national grand final.

The judging panel for the grand final included record label representatives from Sony and Universal, as well representatives from music management companies, recording studios, professional vocal coaches and the examination board, Rock School.

Also picked by the judging panel as winners were Tom Auton from Cardiff, Wales who was crowned winner of the under-16s age category, and Yazzy from Westwood Ho, Devon who took home the runner-up place for the under-16s age category.

Future Music, which runs the company, is now about to start auditions for TeenStar which you can enter now at www.teenstarcompetition.co.uk. See also www.songwritingcompetitionuk.com.