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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009
US Beatles fan wins Cavern chance
Chris Smallwood
Chris Smallwood will get the chance to play at The Cavern

An American Beatles fan has won the chance to visit the UK and perform at the world famous Cavern club.

Chris Smallwood won first prize in a competition at the world's biggest Beatles singing contest in Kentucky.

The 23 year old, a student at the University of Louisville, says the chance to visit The Beatles' home city was the reason he entered.

"I knew they were giving away a trip to Liverpool and I'd always wanted to go," Chris says.

"My parents were Beatles nuts, so that's what I was raised on, I've been a fan since I was a little kid."

Star performer

Chris took part in the contest at the annual Beatles Festival in Kentucky which attracts over 200,000 fans to the southern state.

The competition, They're Going To Make A Big Star Out Of Me, was for solo performers who had to sing a Beatles song in front of a panel of judges, the later stages were then judged by the audience.

The first prize is a trip to Liverpool with the chance to perform at the Cavern.

"There were around a hundred entrants and they did it in several rounds so I didn't get to see everybody I competed against," Chris says.

"There was an American Idol/Britain's Got Talent style fan text voting final on a big stage.

"I sang one song throughout, although I don't think it had to be the same one, I just stuck with what was working.

"I did 'The Long And Winding Road'.

"I'm a pianist and they gave you the option of accompanying yourself so I thought it would look better."

"I don't necessarily have a favourite Beatles song but I wanted to pick one that was keyboard driven because a lot of the Beatles songs are mainly guitar driven and would be really hard to replicate.

If you had to choose one person from every generation I would put him on a list with Beethoven
Chris Smallwood on Sir Paul McCartney

When it comes to performing at the Cavern, Chris says he's going to increase his repertoire, "I'll probably do several songs there, The Long And Winding Road, Fool On The Hill, and other piano driven songs.

"I got to play in Carnegie Hall last spring and I would say, the Cavern is a more sacred music spot than Carnegie Hall."

Chris, like many Beatles fans does have a particular favourite from the group, "McCartney, just because I admire his song writing style and his voice," he says.

"They're all amazing, but definitely McCartney, he's probably my favourite living musician of any band or genre.

"Just what he, with John Lennon, and then solo, has contributed to the field of music is just huge.

"If you had to choose one person from every generation I would put him on a list with Beethoven and people like that who totally transformed music for their time."

Like any true Beatles fan Chris says his trip to Liverpool wouldn't be complete without a pilgrimage to some of the city's fab four landmarks, "We're going to stay in the Hard Days Night hotel and of course I'll visit the Cavern club, I'd like to see the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and all the touristy Beatles things."

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