X Factor's Northern Ireland teenager reaches final in Australia
A Northern Ireland teenager is singing his way to X Factor glory ... on the other side of the world.
Rather than face weekly grillings from Simon Cowell, 18-year-old Andrew Lawson is instead causing a sensation on the Australian version of the hit show.
He crooned his way to the final nine on the live show following his version of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ on Sunday.
The talented singer’s family emigrated from Lisburn to New Zealand when he was six and settled in Australia five years ago.
After getting into the prestigious Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Andrew decided to defer his course and try out for the show. “I wanted to get going and kickstart my singing, which is why I left the course,” Andrew said.
“I heard about the auditions and decided to give it a go.”
Boyzone’s Ronan Keating and singer Natalie Imbruglia, who are on the judging panel, were blown away by Andrew’s talent at the audition stage. And he impressed guest mentor Kelly Rowland at the judge’s house stage in New York.
Since then, the teenager has been gaining a huge amount of fans, including his grandmother Marlene Finch.
She has been watching the show over the internet from her home in Hillsborough.
“It’s great, very exciting. He is one lovely, lovely boy,” she said.
The proud granny remembers how a young Andrew would sing John Denver songs when she picked him up from Ballymacash Primary School.
Andrew’s mother Julie Lawson has flown from Queensland to Sydney each week to cheer on her son. “It's just one of those things that you can't really afford, but you can't afford to miss, “ she said.
The live show goes out on Sunday with the results show broadcast each Monday.
All the family have been getting behind the young star. His aunt Jenny Dunlop said: “Monday morning is very stressful in this house when the results are coming in, so I don’t know how my sister is feeling.”
Andrew began playing guitar when he was seven and now writes his own songs. His father Harry Lawson, who owned the family butchers in Bridge Street, Lisburn, before moving to New Zealand, introduced him to many musical greats including classic crooners Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
“They are great story-tellers. My dad grew up with that music and has always played it ,” Andrew said.