Mia Carney, a pupil from Farrington Academy has been crowned the winner of Gentoo’s talent competition after she impressed the judges with her Genfactor performance.
Organised by social enterprise, Gentoo Group, the Genfactor competition gives talented young people from across Sunderland, the platform to showcase their talents whilst competing for the winner’s title.
This year’s Genfactor final was held at Rainton Meadows Arena on Wednesday 28 October, where a total of 16 acts performed to a live audience of hundreds of people and a panel of five judges.
12 year-old Mia Carney, impressed the judges and wowed the crowds with her stage presence and confidence during her vocal performance of Black Heart by Stooshe.
Mia said: “I am really happy and excited. I thought everyone had a good chance and didn’t expect to win – it didn’t sound real when they said my name. I’ve loved every minute, met some lovely people and made new friends. It’s been really amazing.”
Judges included John Craggs, Acting Chief Executive, Gentoo, Barry Hyde, Former Futureheads Frontman, Brandon Lee Sears, Professional Dancer and West End Performer, Natalie Catlah, Dance Teacher, The Barre Studio and Martin Longstaff, The Lake Poets Performer.
On the night, audiences were treated to special performances from Barry Hyde and The Six Hour choir who sang 'The Seagulls and the Saint' (the anthem he wrote specifically for Sunderland's City of Culture Bid), previous Genfactor winner Liam Jones and St. Anthony’s Choir.
Comperes Steve Walls; local presenter, comedian and voiceover artist, and Jonny Chambers; performer, director, producer and radio presenter, hosted the event and entertained the crowds whilst judges made the difficult decision of who to crown the Genfactor runners up.
Aged 11 to 16, Dance troupe, Dance Jam, got the crowd going with their dance mash-up, getting the entire arena bouncing and taking second place in the competition.
Third place winner, five piece indie rock band, Supersonic, also impressed the judges with their performance of Jet’s ‘Are you gonna be my girl’.
John Craggs, Acting Chief Executive, Gentoo said: “The Genfactor not only opens up new opportunities for young people, but they also get the chance to perform in front of an audience,
learn new skills and meet new people.
“We have so many talented young people in our city and the Genfactor is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and recognise that talent together.
“We’re delighted that the Genfactor was yet another big success and we’re grateful to each of the competitors, volunteers, sponsors, judges and performers for making this such a memorable evening.”
A number of local businesses supported the Genfactor event 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.
Former Futureheads frontman, Barry Hyde, performed on the night and sat on the judging panel. He said: “The amount of work and time that goes in to this event is phenomenal. The audition process is long and there are boot camps running for months leading up to the event. This brings about a huge sense of community amongst the contestants and this can be felt on the night. The atmosphere is wonderful.
“I will continue to support this event because it is a brilliantly organised charity event that provides and fantastic platform for the overwhelming amount of young talent in our fine city to gain experience and grow as performers. Congratulations to all involved!”
Martin Longstaff, Lake Poets performer, sat on the judging panel and had previously visited the Genfactor finalists with advice and an exclusive performance. He said: “It was a pleasure to be involved with this year’s Genfactor. As a musician and a proud Wearsider, my heart was full of joy to see and hear the calibre of young talent that we have on our own doorstep.
“The Genfactor showcases this local talent excellently and long may it continue to build confidence and inspire future generations.”
Now in its seventh year, over 900 young people have taken part in the Genfactor competition which gives local, young performers the change to grow, build confidence and the opportunity to showcase their talents.
£319.53 was raised on the night for Gentoo’s corporate charities Nuru Fund, Cancer Research UK and MacMillan.