Sunderland singer in Open Mic UK regional finals

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A SUNDERLAND singer will go head-to-head with some of the region’s top unsigned talent as part of a major national contest.

Riez Purba, 22, from Ford Estate, will take to the stage for the regional finals of Open Mic UK after impressing judges in previous rounds.

If he makes it through this heat he could be in with a chance of 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.”

Riez impressed in the initial round with a rendition of Colorblind by Counting Crows.

“One of the judges said I had a beautiful, mellow voice. I’m really nervous about the next stage, I’ve never played to a crowd like this before, it’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve done.”

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.

The regional final will take place on Sunday at The Tyne Theatre, Newcastle.

Riez, who also writes his own music, said: “Music is such an important part of my life, it’s something that’s there when I’m happy, sad, angry. It’s something I’ve always confided in, a source of comfort.”