Singing sensation Joe McElderry has a message for South Tyneside’s budding stage stars – put yourself in the running for the Young Performer of the Year crown.
The man behind a string of top albums wants to see talented youngsters entering the competition which is sponsored by Port of Tyne.
And he told how it was this very competition which helped him on his own road to stardom.
Joe was crowned Young Performer of the Year in 2008, the year before he stormed to victory on The X Factor.
Since then, the 24-year-old, from Westoe, South Shields, has released four studio albums and played hundreds of gigs around the country and the world.
He’s recently taken a step into theatre, starring in pantomime for the last three years, as well as taking on the eponymous role in The Who’s rock opera Tommy at Blackpool Opera House last year.
Joe, who also won Popstar To Operastar in 2011, is currently starring as Joseph in a UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
He said: “Young Performer of the Year was one of the first things I did singing-wise, and it really spurred me on to pursue a career in performing arts.
“So go for it, you never know what might happen. It’s a wonderful award to receive and I still treasure it very much.”
Fellow X Factor champ Jade Thirlwall is also a previous winner of the Young Performer title.
The 23-year-old, from Laygate, South Shields, won the award in 2010 and went on to win The X Factor one year later as part of girl band Little Mix.
So come on everyone – get involved and it might be you on the road to the top.
We’re hoping to watch a whole host of new talent in this year’s contest.
It will be open for entries until the deadline of Monday, April 4.
After that, all the Young Performer finalists will get to perform at the Customs House in South Shields on Monday, April 18.
Judges will choose three contestants from the night who will go on to a shortlist.
They will perform again at the finale of the Best of South Tyneside awards, which will be held at the Quality Hotel, in Boldon, on Thursday, June 9.
And that’s the night when we will reveal who has won this year’s Port of Tyne-backed Young Performer of the Year crown.
Now all we need is lots of entrants to make this year’s Young Performer category, sponsored by Port of Tyne, another memorable competition.
To enter this year’s contest, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org