Belfast Telegraph

Young Jessica goes gaga after Star Search victory

by Michael Bashford

A 16 year old east Belfast girl has become the new winner of the ‘Citybeat Young Star Search' competition.

Castlecourt in Belfast City Centre was packed to the rafters with adoring friends, family and fans all rooting for their favourite act with huge banners, personalised balloons and homemade t-shirts.

The atmosphere was electric as the sea of faces chanted the name of their would-be-winner in response to presenter Stuart Robinson’s now infamous question ‘who’s it gonna be?’

After a week-long series of nail-biting elimination rounds it was an achievement in itself for the 30 grand finalists to have made it to the last leg of the competition.

Hundreds of hopefuls took the first step on their Young Star Search journey almost six months ago and on Saturday the crème de la crème stood before the public and the panel to be judged for the last time.

With the crowd tight against the stage, shoulder to shoulder along the mall and looking down from the first floor, the pressure was really on to produce a perfect performance. Keeping with tradition the babies of the bunch aged eight to 12 kicked off proceedings and brought the house down while they were at it.

However, it was Jessica Hammond’s performance of Lady GaGa’s Speechless which shone most for the judges.

Excellent guitar, note perfect vocals and buckets of heart made her a cut above the rest.

Judge and record producer Micky Modelle said: “The talent this year is just out of this world.

“Young Star Search gets bigger and better every year and it just goes to show what an amazing wealth of talent there is in Northern Ireland.”

Commenting on her win, Jessica said: “I was really nervous but the atmosphere was fantastic and I just gave it my best shot.

“I am delighted to have won and all the experience and publicity will be invaluable in my future career.

“I would advise anyone thinking of applying for Young Star to go for it — you could be standing in my shoes this time next year.”

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