Brigid prepares to take the Mic for regional talent final

Brigid Mhairi
Brigid Mhairi

A FEW years after being on the brink of success in an internet singing contest Duns’ Brigid Mahiri is back on the competition path and has sealed herself a place in the regional finals of Open Mic UK.

Having beaten hundreds of other hopefuls in the UK heat of iChooz’s search for a new music star at the start of 2009, a trip to America was in the offing for Brigid but this dream turned to tatters when the competition folded due to financial problems.

She didn’t let this knock her off course though and her career has gone from strength to strength ever since, with her most recent success being a lengthy run in Taste of Scotland’s show at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh.

And Brigid said she thought her stint in the acclaimed show would serve her well when it came to taking to the stage at Newcastle’s Journal Tyne Theatre next month for the next round of Open Mic UK.

If she impresses the panel of celebrity judges and audience members enough she could be on her way to London’s 02 Arena for the final and a performance on a stage that many established stars have yet to set foot on.

“There’s still about four weeks of the Taste of Scotland show still to go and I’m absolutely loving it,” the 19-year-old said.

“For the first month or so of performances I was still very nervous but then something must have clicked as I’ve been really enjoying it ever since.

“It’s been a lot easier than I thought and the show seems to have made a really big impact. Being in the show has definitely changed the way I perform.

“It wasn’t the kind of role where I could just stand at the mic and act all shy and although, strictly speaking, there wasn’t any acting involved songs like ‘Glencoe’ required a certain level of emotion.”

It was Brigid’s gran who first alerted her to Open Mic UK and after logging onto the competiton’s website to find out more she decided to give it a shot.

Her task for the initial regional heat was to find an acapella audition piece and Brigid settled on her song after being inspired by a hit 1990’s film.

She explained: “I was half expecting the competition to be like ‘X Factor’ where we’d go into see the judges one by one but although there was a lot of waiting around - I got there at 9.30am for what was meant to be an 11 o clock start but turned out to be 1.30 - it was more like the ‘Pop Idol’ format; we were lined up in groups and each got about 30 seconds to impress.

“I sang ‘His Eye Is on The Sparrow’ from ‘Sister Act 2’.

“I remember being really impressed when Lauryn Hill sang it in the film but it is technically quite a hard song to master so I decided to put my own spin on it. I’m just glad they liked it.”

Fortunately for Brigid and her fellow Open Mic hopefuls they weren’t cruelly subjected to the hours of waiting around many TV talent show hopefuls have to endure and instead found out their fate after just 15 minutes.

But Brigid said she was unsure whether it would be a thumbs up or thumbs down for her.

“Although, with a difficult song, the audition went better than expected I didn’t feel it was the best audition I’d ever done so although the wait was only 15 minutes it was still quite nerve-wracking.

“All of the contestants in my category waited together. There were three categories - under-16, 17-25 and 25 and over - I would say the majority of auditionees were for the youngest category but there were still quite a few in mine.

“As we watched some of them get bad news, me and one of the other girls started to think we were in with a chance of going through so it was a relief to get the good news.”

After impressing with just a few bars of ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’, Brigid now has to decide on a song over three minutes long which she hopes will give her a shot at victory and she already has a few in mind.

She continued: “I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my song choices, at the moment I’m torn between Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’ and Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’- both are great tracks.

“To make it through to the final and get to perform at the 02 would be absolutely amazing. Prior to doing Taste of Scotland I’d always preferred doing intimate gigs in smaller venues but I think I now want to experience playing in front of a larger audience. Playing at the 02 is what a lot of artists dream of!”

As well as being Prestonfield House’s lead songstreess for the past few months, Brigid has also found time to squeeze in a few performances with her blues band Doc Rodent and graduate from her HND in Modern Musicianship at Jewel and Esk College, with the added distinction of having the highest marks in her year.

To help her pass the Open Mic test with flying colours, Brigid is relying on plenty of support and needs to sell her allocation of tickets for the October 22 regional final in Newcastle.

Tickets, priced £8, are now available from Border Bikes in Duns and to find out more about the event, Brigid’s song choices etc visit ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwsHZQ4Lt2Q.