A SUNDERLAND teenager is a step closer to stardom after wowing Rita Ora on hit BBC show The Voice.
Millions tuned in tonight to see Olivia Lawson, from Grindon, sing for success in front of a star-studded panel of judges.
The 17-year-old’s version of Nirvana’s indie classic Smells Like Teen Spirit proved a hit and three of the judges turned around in the blind audition stages of the show.
Rita Ora, Ricky Wilson and will.i.am then had to battle it out amongst themselves to convince Olivia to choose them as her coach.
Olivia, of Grindon, who watched the show with friends and family at The Chesters pub in Chester Road, said: “It was so amazing to perform for all those artists, I couldn’t think of four better people to perform for. But it does mean there was added pressure.
“I was so nervous. Sometimes I think it would be easier if they didn’t have their backs turned as they could smile at you and give you encouragement. But it’s such an amazing opportunity.
“I burst out crying when I saw that three of them had turned around for me.”
Olivia chose Rita, whose hits include Radioactive and RIP, as her coach for the next round of the show.
The Grindon Hall sixth form student said: “I chose Rita because of her pitch. Will.i.am said some amazing things but he already has someone with a similar voice to me in his category. Rita is young and a woman and I think she could really help me.
“She sang to me off camera and she was amazing, I was just thinking to myself ‘people would pay thousands of pounds to have her sing for them like this.’”
Olivia will now enter the Battle Round stage where she will have to sing for survival in the show against another contestant.
Rita will have to choose between the two of them who to put through to the next round, but the other coaches then have the opportunity to ‘steal’ the losing artist for their team.
The talented teenager, who is also in the running to be Miss Sunderland at a glittering final in April, said: “I never imagined I would get this far. I applied for The Voice because I really look up to the coaches and they are all artists themselves, which you don’t get with shows like the X Factor.
“This is all so unexpected, but this has really given me confidence with my singing.”
Support for Olivia has been gathering across the city, especially at Kitui salon in Barnes where she works part-time.
She said: “Since my story has been in the Echo, the support has been amazing. I thought people would be saying ‘what’s she doing on that show’ but everyone has been so lovely.”
If Olivia makes it through to the final stage of the contest, the live shows, she’s in with a chance of scooping a lucrative recording contract with Universal Music.