A TEENAGE singer is hoping her YouTube video could be the key to her dream music career.
Haneen Alsaffer posted footage on the internet of her singing after friends told her she should show off her talent.
Now a year after leaving classes, the 16-year-old has signed a record deal after she was spotted through the online video sharing site and has attracted more than 95,000 visitors to her own website.
She has been busy recording an EP, which is scheduled for release later this year, and plans are in place to release an album through Durham-based Starfighter Records.
Haneen was spotted by Ian Clayton, who runs Durham Ghost Walks and first recruited her as an actor to perform as part of the tours.
He has since taken over her management through the firm IMD3 Media.
Haneen, who lives in Rickleton, Washington, with her parents and brother Amir, 13, said: “I’ve always loved singing and dancing when I was little, but I didn’t think I could make a career in it.
“My friend heard me singing and she said I should post a YouTube video. She said she would just delete it later on. Then I saw how many people had seen it, so I left it on.
“Then I kept getting comments asking me to put more and more videos on there.
“Ian contacted me, first to talk about the ghost walks.
“It started from there and it’s really taken off and going really well.”
Her first video was a cover of Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan, which found further exposure through Adele’s cover.
Follow-up videos – a further 18 on her channel Haneenxxxx – include covers of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and Amy Winehouse’s No Good, each with thousands of hits.
Ian, 46, from Durham, said: “I saw the video she had recorded in her bedroom and I was just taken immediately by her style of singing.
“We’re working on some original material and it’s really taking off in a massive way.
“We launched her website for January and in one month it had 95,000 unique users, which is colossal.”
But despite taking a year out of education after leaving Park View School, in Chester-le-Street, she does not plan to leave her learning behind. She is due to take up a place at Durham Sixth Form Centre in September to study psychology, law and performing arts.