Leeds singer Oliver aims to raise an army of new fans

SONG FROM THE HEART: Oliver Pinder performs in the Centre Stage heats
SONG FROM THE HEART: Oliver Pinder performs in the Centre Stage heats
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TEENAGERS from all over Leeds are hoping a charity initiative which mixes fundraising with a hunt for musical talent will give them the showcase which launches their careers.

Backed by members of bands of the calibre of The Pigeon Detectives, Embrace, The Cribs and Festival Republic, Centre Stage was launched in 2009 and offers a stage to younger performers from the area who battle it out for the honour of playing at the Leeds and Reading Festival. In return, they have to commit to an element of fundraising for the charity.

By far the majority who have made it thorough to the final rounds over the past five years have been bands but, this year, two solo performers are in the mix with Bryony Drake and Leeds’s own 14-year-old singer-songwriter Oliver Pinder competing for the big prize.

Both will perform in the final at the city’s O2 Academy on the evening of Wednesday, July 23, but it won’t be the first time Oliver has played in front of a large audience.

“I did St George’s Hall in Bradford when there were over !,000 people in the audience but I’m really excited about this as it’s a fantastic opportunity,” he said.

Oliver’s music has already been described as a mix of Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran and Jake Bugg - and he’s hoping that’s not a bad thing.

“I mostly write about the stuff around me,“ he said. “The song from the heats was something I wrote about war after watching Saving Private Ryan, which I thought was quite powerful.”

Other acts in the running in 2014 include Conflare, Demoralised, Random Behaviour, Acarode, GirlsOnDrugs, The Concertines, Chickadees, Shupadum, Premonition and The Puppeteers.

Leeds-bound Paul Weller

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