Karen Harding on swapping working in a Sunderland takeaway for the music charts

Karen Harding
Karen Harding
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It’s been an epic year for Say Something singer-songwriter Karen Harding.

The 23-year-old star, from Consett in County Durham, has come a long way since she dished up chips in her family’s business, Taste of the Orient, in Chester Road, Sunderland.

Over the years, Karen has featured in the Echo many times as she has chased her dreams of a singing career, appearing in talent contests throughout the region and winning the title of Miss Philippines.

Now she’s bagged her first top 10 in the UK charts after her début single, Say Something, was released in February.

She’s performed at a string of festivals during the summer and is now set to release her second single, Open My Eyes, in November.

With Whitney Houston as her musical icon, Karen aims to bring to house music what Whitney brought to the ’80s and ’90s.

Karen Harding

Karen Harding

And she’s done just that with her unique, powerful vocals and cool vibe on the epic house track Say Something.

The statement song, which was produced by MNEK, who has worked with Rudimental and Tinie Tempah, stayed in the official UK charts for four months.

Karen said: “I can’t believe Say Something is still being played now and people are still discovering it. It blows my mind to know that people are into my music.”

Performing the dance track at festivals during the summer was a dream come true for the rising star, who missed out on The X Factor in 2013, after losing her seat in the infamous chair challenge.

Riding high on the success of Say Something, Karen played on the main stage at her first ever festival appearance, at the Parklife Weekender in Manchester.

She said: “It was unreal. My family came down to share the experience with me and it was just what dreams are made of. The crowd were so hyped up and I had such a good time.”

As well as performing, Karen has spent a lot of time co-writing with some of the industry’s finest including Jimmy Napes (Sam Smith) and Rodney Jerkins (Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Rihanna and Mariah Carey) to name just a few.

She’s also featured on Belgium producer Arches’ track New Love, and Blonde’s Feel Good (It’s Alright) house tune.

Karen’s next single has been produced by Mercury Music Prize nominated artist MJ Cole.

“I’m so excited about my next record. It’s more a feel-good tune, MJ Cole has done such a good job. It has a hint of old school garage and house in it,” added Karen, who is grateful for the support she’s had this year and is super excited about the next step in her music career.

Before the release of her début album in March next year, Karen will be heading home to the North East for some quality time with her family and friends this Christmas, and she says she can’t wait to tuck into her mam’s Christmas dinner.

2016 is set to be a busy but exciting time for the star, who added: “I can’t wait to show everyone different sides of me on the album. I’m bursting for everyone to hear my new music and can’t wait to be back in Newcastle performing.”