X FACTOR star Lola Saunders is hoping a local contest will lead to the big time – just like fellow TV talent show winner Jamie Lambert.
THE X Factor isn’t the first singing contest that Lola Saunders has been a part of.
The 20-year-old, from East Boldon, was crowned winner of Open Zone Idol in 2007.
The fresh-faced 13-year-old won the contest, alongside Amber Mesalles, which was launched by Open Zone music studios, in Ashley Road, South Shields, in 2006.
Her dad Wes said: “She entered the contest herself after one of her friends had told her about it and she decided to give it a go.
“I’ll always remember when we were driving to the Customs House for the show and she got really upset because she couldn’t remember her words.
“She was singing No Defence by Lucy Silvas but her mind just went blank and we couldn’t remember how it went either, so she started to panic.
“She was also concerned because she was just wearing cowboy boots, jeans and a top and all the other girls were dressed up, but she got up on the stage and just smashed it and won her age category.”
The contest was launched by Open Zone and was open to 13 to 19-year-olds, offering the winner the chance to record their own CD.
The year it was launched – the year before Lola won – the title was earned by Jamie Lambert, who went on to win Britain’s Got Talent with his classical boyband Collabro earlier this year.
The 25-year-old, who hails from Washington, is the son of Lorraine Lambert, chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
Wes added: “Isn’t that funny that he won it too?
“I think there were a couple hundred people there on the night and she was nervous, but when Lola starts singing it’s all she focuses on and she blocks everything else out.
“She always sang around the house and she’s always wanted to be a singer.
“I think her confidence is growing every week. As a family, we’re just taking it week-by-week.
“She’s said to me and her mam that she can’t believe the talent of everyone that’s left in the contest and that she can’t believe she’s there with them.
“No matter what happens, she’s done us proud.”
The X Factor returns to ITV1 at 8pm tomorrow (SAT) when contestants will perform under the theme ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’.