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Star Search heat is on in Carrickfergus

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11 year old  Sally Philiphs  on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat  held in the Carrickfergus

11 year old Sally Philiphs on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat held in the Carrickfergus

12 year old Hayley Louise Orr   on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat  held in the Carrickfergus

12 year old Hayley Louise Orr on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat held in the Carrickfergus

Fans enjoying  the City Beat Young Star search heat  held in the Carrickfergus

Fans enjoying the City Beat Young Star search heat held in the Carrickfergus

20 year old  Samantha Finneggan on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat  held in the Carrickfergus

20 year old Samantha Finneggan on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat held in the Carrickfergus

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11 year old Sally Philiphs on stage at the City Beat Young Star search heat held in the Carrickfergus

The dream is one step closer for some of this year’s Citybeat Young Star Search contestants.



The weather was on their side in Carrickfergus yesterday as they sang their hearts out at the first of 16 regional heats in hopes of becoming the next Leona Lewis or Joe McElderry.

There was a carnival atmosphere at the May Day Fair in the Marine Gardens as the crowd enjoyed bouncy castles, face-painting, a buckin’ bronco and as much ice cream as they could eat. DJ ‘City Boy’ blasted out tunes to get the crowd in the mood and gave the contestants a little encouragement by playing the Journey classic Don’t Stop Believin’.

First up was Sally Phillips (12) from Belfast. Her rendition of Miley Cyrus’s Bottom Of The Ocean was, understandably, a little nervous but word perfect and she made it through to the online public vote. She said: “I was standing there thinking ‘I can’t do this’ but I did! I really wanted to enter last year, but my nephew was born and I was in Liverpool.

“Miley Cyrus is one of my favourite singers, but if I get through to the next round I might sing Sugababes.”

Renee Black (10) from Ballyclare made her stage debut with JLS’s Beat Again. She said: “I’m really happy I got through today because I’ve never even sung into a proper microphone before. If I won the competition I would bring my mum on holiday.”

As the auditions progressed it became clear that the contestants had put a lot of thought and practice into their performances. While, of course, there were a few forgotten words and squeaky notes, music producer and judge Micky Modelle was right when he said: “The bar has been massively raised this year.”

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This rising standard may be due in part to the addition of a new 17-25 age category — or as Citybeat DJ Stuart Robinson quipped ‘Oul’ Star Search’. For that age bracket, this year’s competition could very well be their big break as X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent no longer hold auditions here.

Catherine Ross (20) from Glengormley kicked off with a beautiful version of Sarah McLaughlin’s Angel. It earned her a place in the judges’ final pick. She said: “The atmosphere here is fantastic. Everyone is so supportive and looking out at people singing along and enjoying themselves really helps you to relax.”

How to enter

Performers can turn up on the day without a booked time slot,

but will have to wait for their turn. This year sees the launch of a

new young adult category, for those aged 17-25. Prizes from Citybeat,

paid for by easyJet, include a massive shopping spree, the opportunity

to record a CD single with airplay, the chance to jet off to a top

European destination with easyJet and the fantastic opportunity of

performing at a host of high profile events.


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