Sunderland singer in Open Mic UK area finals

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A SUNDERLAND singer has made it through to the area finals of a contest to unearth the nation’s top unsigned talent.

Riez Purba, 22, from Ford Estate, beat off stiff competition at regional finals for Open Mic UK held in Newcastle to make it through to the area finals, which will be held in Yorkshire, next month.

It means he is one step closer to reaching the national grand final and winning the main prize of £5,000 to spend on the development of his music career.

Previous Open Mic winner Birdy went on to secure a deal with Warner Music and received a Brit Award nomination this year.

Riez, who works in family business Purba and Sons in Fordfield Road, only entered the contest after his parents overheard him singing.

“I used to do it in secret,” he said. “But my parents heard me and this is what gave me the confidence to pursue it.”

Each year, thousands of singers, singer-songwriters, rappers and vocalists across all genres enter the contest, which is run by Future Music who work closely with industry big-hitters Sony, Universal, Warner and Syco.