A DRAMA boss says that South Tyneside singer Lola Saunders has always had the X Factor.
As the 20-year-old from East Boldon prepares for her performance tonight, John Staw, who runs the John Christopher Theatre Company, told how he first met the budding star when she joined his group at the age of 12.
Lola signed up to the group at the same time as South Shields girl Jade Thirlwall, who won the X Factor as part of Little Mix in 2011.
John, 54, who runs the Hebburn-based group with his wife Susan, said: “I remember Lola very well. She joined in 2007 and she was 12 years old at the time. I still have a photograph of her then.
“She came into her audition and she sang and she had a gorgeous voice, even at the age of 12.
“South Shields has got an excellent record in The X Factor. Jade was on the show as everyone knows, and she joined the group at exactly the same time as Lola, she was at the same audition at the Customs House and she of course went on to win the X Factor with Little Mix, so hopefully Lola can follow in her footsteps.
“I always thought Lola had potential as a singer. I remember she was very nervous. She wasn’t fond of her dancing at the time but she loved to sing and she was one of our best singers.”
John, a dad-of-one, who lives in Harton, South Shields, added: “I couldn’t believe it when someone texted me and said Lola Saunders is on The X Factor. I watched it on catch-up and she looked exactly the same, that gorgeous face.
“Now that she’s got through the first two weeks of live shows, like Simon Cowell said, she’s a dark horse and a slow burner and she’s definitely got one of the best voices in the finals and the longer she stays in, the more people will realise that she can win it.”
The X Factor is on ITV1 tonight at 8pm.