Edinburgh’s Got Talent: It’s the final countdown

Barry Gordon asks: Have you got your tickets to see the cream of the Capital’s new talent?

EDINBURGH really does have talent. That’s what the audience at the Festival Theatre will discover tomorrow evening when the ten finalists of the 2012 Evening News’ Edinburgh’s Got Talent take to the stage.

Each will battle it out for the £1000 cash prize and the opportunity to perform at next month’s Radio Forth Awards.

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Now in its fourth year, the Haughey McAuley Irish Dancers scooped the big prize back in 2009 when the inaugural competition was held in the Assembly Rooms.

It was at the same venue a year later that Granton’s Gavin Blackie took the plaudits, before Caitlyn Vanbeck triumphed last year at the Playhouse, bringing the audience to their feet with her rendition of Adele’s Don’t You Remember.

Just getting to the final can open unexpected doors – ask last year’s winner, Vanbeck. Back tomorrow at the Festival Theatre, where she will perform alongside Britain’s Got Talent star Edward Reid, the 14-year-old from Tranent has appeared on stage alongside her idols The Wanted since winning EGT.

She also appeared alongside X Factor finalists The Risk before inspiring 5000 runners to give their all in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

“It’s really hard to pick a favourite out of them all, but I think it was winning Edinburgh’s Got Talent that still stands out,” says Vanbeck, who just recently entered the recording studio.

“When I got home I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited. I was meant to be heading to Manchester for Britain’s Got Talent auditions the next day, but my head was all over the place so we didn’t go in the end.”

So, who has made the 2012 shortlist? Ranging from 12-31 years of age, the Top Ten is an all-girl line-up this year.

Singer Shayne Kidd, 15, from Polwarth, wants to follow in Emeli Sande’s footsteps, singing Clown, a song about standing up to those who make fun of you.

Niddrie-based dancer Chloe McClean might only be 12, but her Highland dance comes courtesy of a rock twist.

Youngest of the bunch by a few months, Musselburgh schoolgirl Ellen Brown, 12, will sing Sarah McLachlan’s ballad Angel, while Derryn McKillop, 17, from Tranent has selected Luther Vandross’ Grammy Award-winning Dance With My Father.

Another singer, 14-year-old Preston Lodge High School student Ciara Harvie, meanwhile, will sing for the very first time in front of an 

Performing the relatively unknown classical track Imaginer, by soprano Lara Fabian, Harvie intends to sing the track in French.

Kerry Millar’s nine-piece dancing group, Dansation – made up of girls between 13 and 18 – performed at EGT’s first-ever final back in 2009.

Having improved their technique over the last three years, the group now call themselves Spirit, and will be getting up on the good foot to The Calling’s pop anthem Wherever You Will Go.

Stevenson College student Billie Finlayson, 18, on the other hand, only found out she was in the final when her mother – who put her daughter forward unbeknownst to Billie – screamed that she’d made the initial Top 40. Billie will sing Eva Cassidy’s 

Rebecca Traynor, 15, from Musselburgh, who came joint-second last year, hopes to go one step further tomorrow when the soprano performs Katherine Jenkins’ Bring Me To Life.

Claire Anderson, 16, who attends Keith Jack’s Gie It Laldy performance school, and who only took up singing whilst recovering from a serious injury that nearly cost her a leg, has chosen Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper as her showcase song.

However, former Abba tribute band member Leona Rae, a 31-year-old singer from Wester Hailes, hopes to impress the judges with a rendition of the Etta James blues I’d Rather Go Blind.

“I’m always amazed at the standard of entries we receive,” says EGT judge and show producer Deborah Welsh. 
“Sometimes I watch X Factor and think ‘our contestants are better than this’ and they’re not on prime-time TV.”

Any nervy contestants might want to take the advice of last year’s winner, Caitlyn.

“When you’re standing at the side of the stage about to perform, don’t keep going over and over your lyrics,” she says. “I did that and started panicking because I thought I had forgotten the words. Just try and remember that once you’re on stage, you’ll be fine because it’s what you’ve practised hard for. All the nerves will go and you can try and enjoy yourself.”

• Edinburgh’s Got Talent, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, tomorrow, 7.30pm, £15 (£10), 0131-529 6000