Tahnee Kelly is a rising star at Gentoo’s Genfactor

Tahnee Kelly has been crowned the winner of this year’s Genfactor, our annual talent competition.

Held on Wednesday 6 December at Rainton Meadows Arena, 14 year-old Tahnee beat off stiff competition from 12 other acts, blowing judges away with her rendition of ‘I’ll rise up’ by Andra Day. Judges included Lake Poets Frontman Martin Longstaff, West End star Brandon Lee Sears, Sun FMs Simon and Dani, as well as previous Genfactor winner Liam-Rhys Jones.

Tahnee attends Farringdon Academy and has also recently won a highly commended award for performing arts at the Sunderland Young Achievers' Awards.

When asked about winning the Genfactor she said: "I can’t put into words what it means to win the Genfactor, as the competition was really tough. It has been an amazing experience.”

The talent competition, which is in its ninth 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.

As well as the winner, 12 other dancers and singers impressed the judges with their professionalism and confidence. Joint third place was awarded to 16 year-old India Mason who wowed judges with her heartfelt version ‘With You’ from Ghost the musical and 15 year-old Anne-Marie Gray for her passionate performance of ‘Spotlight’ by Jennifer Hudson. Second place was awarded to 11 year-old Sophie Bulmer, who impressed judges with her energetic musical theatre performance.

Other acts included Jorja Horner (Dancer), Niamh Henderson (Singer), Jane Usher (Singer), Alessia Fortunato (Dancer), Daisy Pringle (Singer), Katie Chambers (Singer), Denton Robinson (Singer/Guitarist)), Jessica Dale (Singer) and Lucy Bulmer (Dancer).

The crowd was entertained by compere Steve Walls, Houghton Area Youth Band and last year’s winners Saturn Highway.

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director, Gentoo said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the businesses who sponsored the event this year. It really would not have been possible without their support. It is amazing to see this event go from strength to strength each year. The talent this year was exceptional and we are so proud of all of our finalists. Next year will be our tenth anniversary and we can’t wait!”

Businesses who supported the event this year included; Gentoo Homes, Sunderland City Council, Ashmore Consulting, the Bridges, AON, King Brothers, Station Taxis, Statex Colour Print, Apex Joinery, Door Centre North East, A and R Groundworks Limited, Paul Pybuss Scaffolding, H Jarvis, A J Brickwork, The Works, Brick Services, Grundfos and Sunderland’s Business Improvement District.