WITH the next big pop star or breakthrough band always just around the corner, the dream of becoming ‘the next big thing’ in the music world is still very much alive for many aspiring singers, rappers and musicians.
Nowadays, acts can promote themselves and get noticed via the web and social networking sites. The talent competition is another stage on which performers can prove they have what it takes.
Popularised by television series such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, there is a whole host of grassroots contests putting homegrown talent with original songs in front of important people in the music industry.
Live and Unsigned is one of these – and Yiewsley’s Megan Gibson is one hopeful who impressed judges with her silky vocals and polished R’n’B rhythms, and is still in the running to perform in front of thousands of people at The O2 Arena at the competition’s finals this summer.
The 25-year-old, originally from Reading, has been fine-tuning her stage persona since her teens, and now has a trusted production and songwriting team behind her to help realise her dream.
Miss Gibson, who works at an opticians, shows her vocal dexterity on her upbeat track Choong, and keeps to a simple formula of solid melodies and catchy hooks on break-up anthem Back ’n’ Forth.
“I grew up listening to Aaliyah, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston, and I am working really hard to bring back that old R’n’B sound that you don’t see much now,” she says.
“It would be amazing if I progressed in the competition and got to get on stage at The O2. It would be good to know that people appreciate my music and my sound.”
Another of the 50 acts from more than 250 to make it through to the next regional stage is nu-folk foursome, Lunch.
“I am a prolific tweeter, and I often tweet about my meals and what I’m having, so that is where the name came from,” says lead singer Tom Cale.
As well as Tom, the line-up comprises guitarist Josh Jackson and bass player James Mulligan – all old friends – and recent addition, drummer John Innes. They got together just a year ago, having played in separate groups since their early teens.
Tom, who lives in Willow Tree Lane, Hayes, says: “Over the years we have honed our songwriting skills, and this is our serious project.
“We mix big instrumentation with electronic backing tracks and effects; think Arcade Fire, Radiohead, The Arctic Monkeys, Metronomy and David Bowie.”
Despite being together for just a short time, Lunch are already making a name for themselves. They featured on the BBC show Introducing, for up-and-comers, and have performed raucous gigs at venues across London.
They recently played at an event organised by XFM, supporting indie rockers The Rifles.
Their debut EP, as yet untitled, will be released next month.
Live and Unsigned success is next in their sights.
“We are still trying to gain exposure and get a bit of a fan base, so this competition is a great opportunity for us. We have nothing to lose,” says Tom.
Sky is filming this year’s Live and Unsigned for a fly-on-the-wall documentary. The overall winner will win financial backing for development and publicity.
Stand-out acts are in line for other prizes such as studio equipment, and some will be offered festival gigs across the UK and support slots with established artists.
The finals at The O2 will be held during LiveFest, the capital’s largest indoor festival, on July 14.
? The Live and Unsigned showcase regional final is being held at Beck Theatre, in Grange Road, Hayes, on Sunday, March 11. For more information and to buy tickets, go www.LiveandUnsigned.UK.com/music-showcase.