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Football pundit Alan Hanson’s famous assertion that ‘you don’t win anything with kids’ couldn’t be further from the mind of Melksham music producer and promoter Mel Austin.
For the second year running one of the youngsters he works with, has reached the finals of TeenStar, the national competition for future pop stars.
On Saturday 10th May, local teenager Izzy Felstead waltzed through her Southern England Area Final in Fareham, to become one of the first to reach the national final at the NEC, Birmingham, on Saturday 19th July.
Izzy performed her own original song, which she and Mel had recorded at his Beanacre studio back in February this year. Not only did she perform live vocals to a backing track, but she played piano over the first section of the track as well.
Proud dad Julian said, “She was determined to get to the final after the last round when she performed a cover of London Grammar’s ‘Strong’ and thought her best chance was with her own song.”
Mel remixed the backing track after persuading her to play piano live too, since she had already done so for the recorded version, and so she could show another aspect of her musical ability. Mel said, “It’s finding a song for the final that is the problem now. We’ve only got bits of new songs recorded and she plays guitar too!”
Izzy’s success follows on from Melksham teenager Courtney Buchanan’s appearance at the O2 last July in the same competition, which was won by Luke Friend, who went on the come third in X-Factor. Courtney has been helping to mentor Izzy and has been to all the rounds of this year’s TeenStar.
Courtney said, “I’m so pleased for her. She’s really talented and just very natural. A lot of the others cover really old material and look very staged, and I now realise how nerve-wracking it is for your fans.”
Courtney will continue to work with Mel but be managed by Bristol-based Neil Preston from the autumn, who is putting together a band for her to front.
The youngsters’ successes with Mel, both recently and in past competitions (Open Mic and Live & Unsigned), which saw other acts reach national semi-final stages, through his recording and songwriting arm, Melodious Music, and his promotions arm, mobsta, have had lots of support from local media and pubs and clubs.
Both Izzy and Courtney appear at The Pilot in Bowerhill Music Nights, which are the third Wednesday of every month and feature youngsters performing Open Mic sessions, with older bands headlining. The next one is on Wednesday 21st May and entry is free. Mel said, “Without all this local support, we would not have had the success we have achieved.”
Mobsta also organises gigs for charity groups and clubs. Most recently eight8 of the most talented local teenagers performed for The Colerne Music Fund, which supports all kinds of local musical talent. That show was streamed live by Melksham Town Sound and also filmed and a DVD of the performances (Izzy, Courtney, Jordan Cooke, Jordan Whatley, Chloe Turvey, Bertie Wright, Tom Vigar and B-Side) is now available for £5 from Mel.
That show was attended by an impressed Tom Sangster, organiser of Melksham’s Party In The Park, who have always found slots for local acts to perform. Three of the acts – the youngest singer/songwriters Izzy, Tom and Courtney, will be appearing early afternoon at the event on Saturday 12th July, with a mix of their own material and covers. Pilot Music Night supporters The Ray Jones Band have an evening slot too.
The Conservative Club is also promoting this young crop of talent with shows on Saturday 21st June, 9.00pm (Courtney + tbc), Saturday 6th September, 8.00pm (Courtney, Izzy and Jordan Cooke) and dates tbc later in the year.
For further information about Melodious Music/ mobsta/TeenStar, any of the youngsters and/or to buy a ‘Teen Talent Spectacular DVD’, please contact Mel Austin on 01225 705866 or melaustin100@ gmail.com