Stanwell schoolgirl reaches regional finals of Open Mic UK
A STANWELL School student has been given the thumbs-up by judges of a UK singing competition.
Ebony-Rio Rees has made it through to the regional finals of Open Mic UK 2012, a national talent competition searching for the UK's best singers.
The 13-year-old will perform at the live finals in Cardiff on October 20 - and if successful, she will head to the national final at the 02 Arena in London.
A previous contestant in Britain's Got Talent, where she fell just shy of the live shows singing songs by Adele, Ebony-Rio said she was treating the whole process as 'valuable experience', after progressing through the preliminary round at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay on September 9.
"It's a good opportunity for me to continue building my confidence on stage," said the youngster, who played Sharpei in a recent school production of High School Musical.
"I'm not too nervous - I'm just trying to stay mellow and do my best.
"It's going to be an X-Factor style production," she added.
Her mum Paula Rees described her daughter's style as 'soulful'.
"We tend to think of ourselves as quite modest and we don't particularly like the limelight," she said. "I don't think we would have dreamed of entering Ebony-Rio into some of the competition shows we have, had people not been saying to me constantly how talented she is.
"Her passion obviously shone through in her performance, and it's nice that people are giving her such recognition. "We just want to see where it takes her now," she added ÒWe are obviously very proud of her."
Previous winners of the competition include Birdy, who has had hits all over Europe and is set to tour the US to perform with Mumford & Sons; and Hatty Keane, who is currently signed to BGM Music and has performed live sets alongside Ed Sheeran and Tinchy Stryder.
Chris Grayston, events coordinator for Open Mic UK said: "We are looking to find an act that has something unique to offer, another Birdy that can go all the way. "There is so much talent out there I am sure we can find that star again."
For more information on the competition, or for tickets to support Ebony-Rio at next month's final in Cardiff, go to www.openmic.co.uk