Sarah hopes to strike a chord with judges

Morpeth musician Sarah Holmes, who has reached the regional final of the national Live and Unsigned competition.
Morpeth musician Sarah Holmes, who has reached the regional final of the national Live and Unsigned competition.

A MORPETH musician is hoping to make her mark on the big stage at the regional finals of a major competition.

Sarah Holmes was recently successful in the audition section of the Live and Unsigned contest, where she performed one of her songs in front of a judging panel at the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre.

She will return to the venue on April 1, and this time hundreds of spectators and influential people in the music industry will be attending.

The event adds to her busy schedule as she organises a weekly Buskers’ Night at The Black Bull in Bridge Street, Morpeth, and is currently doing a one-year Music Enterprise top-up foundation degree run by Leeds Metropolitan University at Newcastle College, as well as her job at the Morpeth branch of White Stuff.

The 25-year-old said: “I was quite nervous at the audition because I had to wait a long time to be called in and the people sitting at the table are only there to judge you. Unlike an audience, it was impossible to tell if they liked my performance.

“I was delighted to get through to the regional final and I’m very excited about the live show as I’m a lot more comfortable playing in front of an audience.

“It would be amazing to get through to the national final in London, or even to get some spots at music festivals across the UK and abroad, as the organisers will be watching all the acts.

“In the meantime, I will be playing regularly at the Buskers’ Nights. I normally start them off and then others come on stage.

“This is a good environment for musicians to try things out in front of people and if they just want to sing, then me or my partner can play the guitar to accompany them.

“We’re still getting the word out, but in recent weeks more people have been coming along to play and watch.”

Sarah, who lives in the town centre, discovered that she had musical talent at a young age and she often sang and played the keyboard/piano at home and school.

She learned to play the guitar at 16 and was soon performing at buskers’ events in different parts of the county. Her development continued with a two-year Popular Music Performance degree from Newcastle University.

Roles at a musical instrument manufacturer in Newcastle and a music publisher in Suffolk were combined with performing at pubs and festivals over the next few years before she decided to return to Northumberland and go back to university studies.

Her main project for her current course will give young musicians and bands in Morpeth an opportunity to play in front of their peers.

Sarah is currently looking for venues for her Teen Busk sessions after receiving a £300 grant from O2’s Think Big scheme. The musicians and audience will be under 18.

“As far as I’m aware, nothing like this is being run in the area,” she said.

“When I was doing buskers’ nights at 16 my mum wasn’t too keen on me going into pubs and bars a few times a week so this provides under 18s with a safe environment where they can play their songs and socialise.

“The plan is to find somewhere to put on a few sessions to see if the demand is good and take things from there.”

She added: “I enjoy these other roles, but performing is my big passion and I will also be playing at a couple of local festivals later in the year.”

The Black Bull Buskers’ Night takes place on Tuesdays from 8.30pm.