Sunderland schoolgirl wows judges to take The Genfactor 2019 crown
Organised by the housing group, Gentoo, the event celebrated its 10th anniversary with the competition at the Rainton Meadows Arena.
And, 12-year-old Riona, blew the judges away with her powerful performance of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing.
The St Anthony’s Catholic Girls' Academy pupil, said: “I was so nervous waiting to hear the winner’s announcement and so shocked to hear my name, I didn’t know what to say.
"Genfactor has been really great, everyone has been so friendly and supportive of each other. I’ve loved making new friends.”
Judges included Martin Longstaff, aka The Lake Poets, West End star Brandon Lee Sears, Barry Hyde of The Futureheads, North East singer and 2018 X Factor contestant, Molly Scott, and performer, producer and principal of Stagecoach Washington, Melanie Hill.
Melanie also donated a Stagecoach scholarship, which was won by fellow finalist and singer Sam J Scott.
Barry said: "I have been involved with this competition for many years and it just keeps getting better and better."
Martin agreed saying the young people really excelled and Molly said she was very impressed with the quality and diversity of the acts.
The talent competition, designed to give those aged between 11 and 18 the opportunity to showcase their talents has seen more than 1,200 young people audition since its launch in 2009.
By taking part in the competition they learn new skills, meet new people and gain confidence by performing in front of a live audience.
As well as the winner, 13 other singers and dancers impressed the judges with their professionalism and confidence.
Third place was awarded to 17-year-old India Mason who captivated the judges with her original take on David Bowie’s Life on Mars and second place was awarded to 13-year-old Jessie Dale, for her beautiful rendition of Always Remember Us This Way from A Star is Born.
Other acts included singers Daisy Pringle, Maisie Surtees, Tammy Louise Proctor, Callum Stockdale, Lucy Garnett and Ruby Evans, who were joined by dancers Beth Carney, Natalie Noble, Dance Jam and Sophie Doneathy Dance.
And, the crowd was entertained by compere Steve Walls.
Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director, Gentoo said: “What an incredible night we had celebrating the 10th anniversary of Genfactor.
“I am overwhelmed by the calibre of talent that auditioned this year and am extremely proud of our 14 finalists for putting on an outstanding performance. They are testament to the home grown talent we have in our city.
“A special thank you to every person that auditioned, supported and sponsored Genfactor 2019, our 10th year celebration would not have been possible without all of your valuable support.
“Genfactor is the perfect platform to celebrate the young people in our city and we’re excited to continue this wonderful event next year.”