Forestside Young Singer Songwriter Finals (1)

Forestside Young Singer Songwriter Finals (1)

DJ Paul Kennedy and local songstress Triona Carville have announced the winners of Forestside’s third annual Young Singer-Songwriter competition.

The finals, which took place at Belfast’s Sunflower Bar on Saturday, November 25, saw Conor Marcus, 12, crowned winner of the Under-17 category, and Eilis Mulholland, 19, winner of the Under-20 category. Now, they will split a prize fund of £1,000 and embark on a music mentoring programme thanks to Forestside, which includes media training, a professional recording (audio and video) of their winning track and the chance to play at Belfast’s best music festivals.

Conor, who attends Methodist College Belfast and is from Loughinisland, won with his self-written track, ‘The Girl I Met’. He has been writing music since he was five and last year taught himself how to play the guitar to accompany his original tracks. Meanwhile Eilis has been playing both guitar and the piano since she was 14. She currently attends Belfast Metropolitan College, where she studies music, but home is Maghera. Her winning track was titled ‘Best Friend’.

Forestside’s Young Singer-Songwriter competition began in June, where students were urged to spend their summer months penning and practicing original tracks. Competition entries opened in September, and in October semi-finals were launched with all participants playing live in Forestside’s Caffe Nero over four consecutive weekends.

Speaking about the winners, Lee Cutler, Forestside Centre Manager, said: “This year’s standard of entrants was phenomenal. As soon as entries opened we were flooded with exceptionally talented young singer-songwriters, all of whom had mastered a musical instrument, rehearsed their vocals and managed to pen a chart-worthy track. It’s impressive dedication from school-age kids.

“It was a close competition, and the judges had a truly difficult job in selecting the winners, but they finally agreed. Conor’s skills were impressive given his young age, and Eilis demonstrated a confidence on the stage which takes years to master. Both were worthy winners and I congratulate them.”

DJ Paul Kennedy said: “There aren’t many avenues which give young people in Northern Ireland the chance to show off their talents, which is why the Forestside Young Singer-Songwriter is so important. Not only does it encourage school-age kids to prioritise their musical skills, but it gives them the opportunity to grow them with a mentorship programme available afterwards to the winners, and also the finalists. Congratulations to Conor and Eilis – I can’t wait to see where your future music careers take you.”

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