11-year-old lands major record deal
Choirboy Jack Topping has landed a major record deal at the age of just 11.
The schoolboy from Liverpool has become the youngest person ever to be signed by the Decca label and will release his debut album in November.
Jack - who was discovered while singing in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir - is also celebrating after being named an ambassador for the charity Save The Children.
His voice will be heard performing the song Tomorrow in the charity's Christmas ad campaign and he has already been to see the effects of education work in South Africa where he visited schools.
Jack follows chorister Isabel Suckling who three years ago signed to the same label at the age of 12 and was managed by former choirboy chart star Aled Jones, now presenter of ITV's Daybreak.
On his new album Wonderful World, the youngster will be paying homage to his Liverpudlian roots with covers of Beatles songs Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road. Ironically, Decca records will be releasing the songs despite famously turning down the Fab Four, who went on to conquer the charts all over the world after signing a deal with rival Parlophone in 1962.
Jack, who has just started a new secondary school, travelled to Qwa Qwa in South Africa as part of his charity visit and met children of his age living in a shanty town. He played football with them and recorded with a local children's ensemble, the Bolata Senior Phase Secondary School Choir, which features on the album
He said: "There are boys and girls my own age all over the world that need help so the work Save the Children does is very important."
In Qwa Qwa, Jack witnessed first-hand the difficulties children his own age face living in a shanty town in a deprived area. But he also made friends and played football with them and recorded with a local children's choir.
Jack says: "I'm so lucky to be a Save the Children ambassador and meet some of the children they are helping in Africa. There are boys and girls my own age all over the world that need help so the work Save the Children does is very important."
Dickon Stainer, the president of Decca Records, said of the new signing: "He's the Gareth Bale of choristers, a once-in-a-generation talent".
His album, out on November 25, also features his versions of works such as Ave Maria, Pie Jesu, The Lord is My Shepherd and You'll Never Walk Alone.
Bookmakers had installed Jack as second favourite for the Christmas number one after a number of bets within hours of his signing being announced.
William Hill ranked him at 6/1, behind the X Factor winner as an even money favourite. A duet between Susan Boyle and a recording of Elvis has been placed at 10/1.
Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams said: "The hype around Jack is astonishing - we have had both family members and music executives trying to place bets on young Jack having the Christmas number one."