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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June 2008, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Estelle helps nurture new talent
By Nesta McGregor
Newsbeat reporter

Meleka celebrates her win with a shiny gold disc and a photo op
Estelle gave an unsigned artist the chance to share the stage with her in Manchester on Thursday.

The R&B singer handpicked the lucky performer through a mini X Factor style competition.

More than 400 singers, dancers and rappers took part, with the winner offered the chance to be the opening act for Estelle's one-off gig in the city.

After whittling down the competition, 15 of the most talented performers were invited to a two-day session of masterclasses.

Finally, four finalists were chosen and it was 20-year-old Meleka who wowed the judges.

As well as opening for Estelle, Meleka will also get to record and release a record.

She said: "I'm really, really excited. I'm just buzzin', ecstatic. I'm really happy at the moment."

'Great vocals'

Although some of her friends didn't make it to the gig, as the train fare from London was too much.

"I did invite a couple of people up - but they didn't want to share the cost!" she said.

Estelle, whose single American Boy spent four weeks at number one, explained why Meleka stood out for her: "To me it comes down to just having great vocals and the potential to do great things.

"The vocals are there and she's not scared. She just committed to the vocal. You did your thing and it was like 'OK I'm not nervous about what I'm doing, I'm just doing it' and I liked that."


Meleka impressed Estelle with her vocals and song-writing skills

And she has high hopes for the young singer's future: "I can't wait to see what she does. I hope she has enough faith and belief in herself to really do it.

"She's been given a great opportunity right now that I'm sure a lot of other people would love, so I really want to see what she does."

Meleka is determined to make a go of it. She said: "I want to be signed. I want to keep on performing. I want to get on festivals and shows over the summer.

"I just want to keep working, just working, working, working. That's all I want to do, that's all I can hope for."


Estelle said she decided to get involved because urban music acts don't get enough exposure in the UK.

She said: "It's more, I think, us stepping our game up talent-wise, lyric-wise and music-wise. And people having enough belief and enough faith and knowing the right way to market it."

As for nurturing more home-grown talent, it's definitely on the cards in the future.

"I think I want to get a few more number one's under my belt. And then I think I'll go crazy with the label," she said.

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