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Unstoppable rise from local talent show regular to Saturday night TV

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

  • Luke Friend has been wowing local audiences since he was 12. Now he could win the biggest talent contest of them all – The X Factor. Below: Pictured with Herald Express reporter Dawn Ellis

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In many ways, the name Luke Friend was always destined to be lit up in lights.

While other kids were kicking around the seafront at Teignmouth, a young Luke was honing his songwriting and performing skills.

He spurned computer games or going out shopping and instead carved an acclaimed career on the local music circuit, winning plaudits before he was even a teenager.

It's no surprise then, that at the age of 17 Luke Friend is on the cusp of winning one of TV's most high-profile contests and on the verge of an international pop career.

It all started in his home town on the South Devon coast.

In August, 2009, at the tender age of 12, Luke triumphed in a Teignmouth's Got Talent show, wowing the 2,000-strong audience with his rendition of a Journey South song.

Within a few weeks, he was back in the spotlight featuring at the annual music festival staged by the Ship Inn at Newton Abbot.

By the end of the year, the then 14-year-old's blossoming talent had caught the attention of the WMN's sister paper, the Herald Express, which described him as "impressive" and "an outstanding vocalist with a wonderful future".

With his star clearly on the rise, the following year Luke caught the ear of John Perkins, the founder of and spokesman for the Teignmouth Sessions, who said he was a schoolboy with a "strong and mature voice".

In October 2010, the young singer was impressing the judges, this time making it to the final of Torbay's Got Talent.

The Coombeshead Academy pupil carried on performing, playing with a band, NWO, until they went their separate ways citing creative difference.

However Luke continued to build a loyal following, not just in South Devon but beyond.

In 2012, Luke was the joint winner of his school's version of the X Factor, a prestigious competition where 60 acts were auditioned and just 13 made it through the final.

But 2013 is proving to be golden for young Luke.

After beating off stiff competition from across the region, the 17-year-old made it through to the regional finals of the prestigious TeenStar contest.

He had the chance to compete in the national final at London's 02 Arena and then won both the late teens section and the overall competition with his own song, Fame of the Unfortunate Girl.

He performed in front of a sellout 2,500-strong crowd, both singing and playing guitar. The cash prize of £5,000 was used to purchase studio time to record his album.

On Saturday, the latest chapter in the Luke Friend story will be decided, with only one thing certain – that it is far from over.

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