Lake Poets singer visits Genfactor finalists (1)

Some of Sunderland’s most talented young performers have been named finalists of the Genfactor 2015. The sixteen, solo singers, dancers, bands and actors, aged 11 to 16, will perform on Wednesday 28 October at Rainton Meadows Arena to an panel of five judges and an audience of more than 1000 people.

Ran by social enterprise, Gentoo Group, the Genfactor is a talent competition which gives young people from across Sunderland the opportunity to showcase their talents.

Before they begun practicing for the much anticipated final, the sixteen finalists were visited by multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Martin Longstaff, who performs as The Lake Poets, for an exclusive performance of his debut album.

Originally from Sunderland, Martin is an award winning writer who began composing music after graduating from University. Martin joined the Genfactor finalists with advice for the young performers and a live question and answer session.

Martin said: "The Genfactor is great for the City of Sunderland. We have a wealth of talent in the north east and if we can get all of the creative, intelligent, expressive, musical and theatrical people of Sunderland together and get them to perform we can show the world, and we can show each other just how talented we all are.

"If you’ve got people behind you, like those at Genfactor, encouraging you to do things and applauding you throughout, it can only build your confidence and make you realise your potential."

Martin, the Lake Poets performer will be a judge at the Genfactor final, joined by Gentoo’s Acting Chief Executive, John Craggs, Barry Hyde, former Futureheads front man, professional dancer and west end performer Brandon lee Sears, and dance teacher, Natalie Catlah, from the Barre Studio.

John Craggs, Acting Chief Executive, Gentoo and Genfactor judge said: "It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for this year’s Genfactor. We have so many talented young people in our city and the Genfactor is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and recognise that talent together. A big thank you to all of our sponsors who are part of the event this year, helping to support young people across the city."

There will be a few special performances on the night including Barry Hyde and a choir who will be singing 'The Seagulls and the Saint' which is the anthem he wrote specifically for Sunderland's City of Culture Bid. There will also be a performance from previous Genfactor winner Liam Jones and St. Anthony’s Choir.

Singers, Bethany Byers, Leah Liddle, Courtney Leighfell, Jane Usher, Lia Challoner (singer and dancer), Olivia Glover, Mia Carney, Lewis Conlin and Leoni Taylor, Alice Liddle (singer and pianist) and duo Owen Seafield and Ross Nunn (singer and pianist) will join indie rock band, Supersonic and dancers, Rhiane Finley, Dance Jam, Ewan Lowther and duo Sinnea Anderson and Leah Lowther to take the winners title.

A number of businesses are supporting this initiative this year including Statex Colour Print, the University of Sunderland, the MAC Trust, the Works, Sun FM, Sunderland City Council, Ashmore Consulting, Thompson Waste Centre, Rough Diamond Entertainment and Corporate Fun Fairs.