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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Wednesday, 29 September 2010 13:42 UK
Hopefuls compete in Open Mic UK
by Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Danica Hunter and Angus Chandler
Danica Hunter and Angus Chandler from Newbury

Open Mic UK is upon us and hopefuls up and down the country have been taking to the stage to perform in the contest.

Berkshire has a wealth of talent which has been doing well.

Artists have made it through to the regional finals and will now perform on the live stages.

Danica Hunter and Angus Chandler from Newbury have been given the big thumbs up by judges and will now attend the auditions at the Beck Theatre in Heyes on October 10.

16-year-old Danica explains how she got involved with the competition.

"I just saw it on the internet and applied. Me and my friend who plays guitar went down to the contest and had to sing to the judges.

"We decided before we went that we wanted to sing something that we'd written to make us stand out from the rest and sang Close Your Eyes which we wrote together.

"I love it really, I don't get nervous anymore, because I enjoy it too much. A bit of adrenaline is alright.

"It was a little bit daunting and it was quite scary because they sit there and look at you. I think they were impressed as they were all smiling and writing lots of notes.

Getting through

Danica was told the next day that she had got through to the finals and is now in with the chance of performing at the O2.

She said there was a range of performers at her heat with some artists doing cover songs and some doing originals.

"When we did our song we were very proud and happy with everything," she says.

So what is next for the youngster?

"We now have to perform in London and have to compete with other people of our age who have got through - 16-18 year olds. We have to do one cover and one original."

But if they don't get through Danica admits it won't be the end of the world.

"I think we're still young, we're only 16 years old. If we don't win we will probably re-enter next year and continue to enter a number of competitions because it's just about the fun really."

Musical passion

Natalie-ann Stokes is another artist who has got through. Born in Twyford, she had success earlier in the year when she got down to the final seven in the search for the voice of a new Disney Character.

She said she is purely passionate about her craft and will do anything to succeed,

Natalie-ann Stokes
Natalie-ann Stokes is taking part in Open Mic UK

"Music is a free expression and you have to be passionate about music in order to want to go on with it because it's such a hard career to get into.

"I think you really have to love it and no-one is going to judge you when you're up there because it's you and you're expressing yourself through honesty. It's not harmful in any way to anyone.

"I've always sung, I sang in choirs, as a child then in school and I did music A Level. I then went on to study performing arts. It's not just about being famous - it's about something I love.

"I want to be able to continue with it. I can't imagine not spending my life being involved in music in some way. I love it."

So to what lengths would Natalie-ann go in order to fulfil her dream?

"You don't give it up. It's in you. It's not something you ever give up. So I do think you would compromise, but you do fit it around your life and you make it work for you as you can."

Natalie-ann attended the audition with her mum Sheila and sang Alanis Morrissette's Ironic. And when she goes back to the next audition she would love some local support.

"We want the whole of Twyford there. Come and support me," she says.

Recording contract

Chris Grayston head of A&R at Future Music says: "We are searching for an act that not only has the live ability to impress an audience, industry judges and A&R associates, but an act that has the potential to become a professional recording artist.

"The standard was high last year and this year looks set to be even better."

There are over £50,000 in prizes up for grabs this year and the overall winner will be offered a recording contract, with up to £30,000 investment..

There are several other artists from Berkshire who are in the running. From Reading we have Janine Simpkin, Charlotte Samuel, MCX, Anthony Tyler, Rhianna Holt and Charlotte Lyles taking part. Slough's Westley Delaney has also got through.

For more information go to Open Mic UK website

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