Highway to success for Genfactor

North East teens Saturn Highway have been crowned the winner of this year’s Genfactor having beat off stiff competition, in the annual talent competition organised by Gentoo.

Held on 26th October, 2016 at Rainton Meadows Arena, Saturn Highway wow judges with their astounding rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling good’ in front of an impressive 1,000 strong crowd.

The talent competition, which is in its eighth year, is designed to give young people aged between 11 and 18 the opportunity to showcase their talents. By taking part in the competition they learn new skills, meet new people and gain confidence by performing in front of a live audience.

Saturn Highway are a four piece band made up of lead singer Olivia Glover, guitarists Brandon Ho and Dylan Abbott and drummer Frazer Graham. They met whilst performing at Genfactor 2015 and decided to come together to create an exciting indie-pop band.

Saturn Highway said: "We’re so happy! We didn’t expect to win as the level of talent was so high.

“We’ve loved every minute of it and can’t wait to use our vouchers to book recording studio sessions. We are also looking forward to supporting Gentoo at events in the future.”

As well as the winner, 15 other dancers and singers impressed the judges. Joint second place was awarded to Tom Smith for his striking cover of Oasis’ ‘Don’t look back in anger’ and Leoni Taylor for her powerful performance of Beyonce’s Listen. Third place went to Tahnee Kelly who opened the night with a brilliant version of Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’.

Judges included West End star Brandon Lee Sears, Chief Executive Officer of Gentoo Group John Craggs, Sunderland Born singer Olivia Lawson who appeared on ITV's The Voice, Lake Poets Frontman Martin Longstaff and Managing Director at Sun FM Julian Carter.

On the night audiences were treated to a special performance from last year’s winner Mia Carney and were entertained by comperes Steve Walls and Simon and Danni from Sun FM.

John Craggs Chief Executive said: “Tonight we have seen just how many talented young people we have in our city and Genfactor is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and recognise that talent together.

“We’re delighted by the success of Genfactor and we’re grateful to everyone who has helped make this such a memorable evening.

“It has been fantastic to watch all of this year’s finalists grow in confidence and I hope they use Genfactor as a springboard to continue pursuing their passions. Congratulations to all on such a great achievement.”

Rebecca Ball, Bid Director of Sunderland 2021 said “It’s been a brilliant evening. The talent this year has been of an incredibly high standard and all the finalists should be proud of what they achieved.

“It was great to see so many people and businesses in the audience supporting local people. With all these talented and ambitious young people in Sunderland, we can only succeed in our bid for City of Culture 2021.”

The event was supported by Gentoo Homes, Sunderland City Council, Sun FM, Sunderland Echo, Northumbrian Water, The Works, NRG, Grundfos, Aon, Bridges, Handlesbanken, Ashmore, NSPCC Sunderland Business Board and Rough Diamond. Gentoo was also supported by media partners Sun FM and Sunderland Echo throughout the build-up and the evening of the event.

More than £320 was collected through donations on the night, the funds will be split evenly across Gentoo’s three corporate charities; Walking with the Wounded, Grace House and MacMillan.