Ballymoney girl, Yasmin Walker has won the Coleraine Goes Country Open Mic Night which was held in the Lodge Hotel on Thursday.
Run by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, entrants sang country music songs to compete for the chance to appear at the Coleraine Goes Country Music Festival in March. The winner also won two other coveted prizes, a voucher from the Lodge Hotel and an opportunity to record a song in the ‘No Sweat’ Studio.
Entrants, who were required to come from the Borough of Causeway Coast and Glens, sang before the four judges who assessed them on everything from singing talent, to how they presented themselves.
The outcome of the competition was so close that the judges agreed that Yasmin was presented with the first prize, however all other contestants were offered the chance to appear at the festival!
Yasmin, aged 23 sang the renowned Dolly Parton’s songs ‘Little sparrow and Jolene’, who graduated from university in June and is pursuing a career in singing.
When Yasmin was presented with the winning prize, she said: “Music has been a huge part of my life from an incredibly young age. I grew up with music always on in the background and family members singing along and was singing before I could walk.
“I started singing lessons when I was 8 years old and trained right up to achieving my grade 8 and performance certificate above that. I went to Dalriada where I was heavily involved in the music department, in choirs, traditional group and, my favourite of all, the school shows. I then went on to study music at the University of Aberdeen where I achieved a bachelor honours degree.
“Since graduating in June I have moved home and have been taking every opportunity to sing at different events and concerts as well as a few gigs. I also teach singing and piano on the side. My passion has always been singing and performing and it has been a dream of mine to be able to make a living from it.
“My dad was the one who brought the opportunity to compete in the competition to my attention. The judging panel was a bit intimidating as it had people who were so experienced and successful in the music business but I was excited to sing for them. All the contestants were really talented but more than that they were all really friendly and positive people. I am so glad that they all will get the opportunity to sing at the festival too.”
“Winning the competition really is an absolute dream come true. The prizes are unbelievable and I cannot begin to express just how grateful and excited I am. Having the opportunity to record my own single with such an experienced and talented producer is the icing on the cake.
“The festival sounds amazing and I am thrilled to be performing at it. I love music and country music in particular because I love songs that tell stories and that you can get drawn into. I can’t wait to perform and also to hear all the other acts. I think it’s a brilliant event that everyone should try and be a part of. The Causeway Coast and Glens Borough has so much talent and I for one cannot wait to see it.”
Julienne Elliott, Economic Development Officer was one of the judges and also manages the Coleraine Goes Country event as part of the economic drive in Coleraine. Julienne stated, “Congratulations to Yasmin on her achievement. To win this competition, as it’s the first Council has hosted towards the Coleraine Goes Country event, is a great opportunity to be seen and heard by country music fans everywhere.
“I would like to thank the other judges, singer and presenter Malachi Cush, Clive Culbertson of ‘No Sweat’ studio and Presenter Brian Moore, we all had a fantastic evening and were blown away by the magnitude of talent at the event.
“I thought it was important that more people got to hear the wealth of talent we have, and the festival is the perfect opportunity. Each entrant had their own unique sound, style and presence on stage, it was great to be a part of the evening and be part of presenting this level of talent to the public.
“We all look forward to the event in March as the Coleraine Goes Country festival will be held on 24th, 25th and 26th of March in Coleraine, whereby we are being supported by Downtown Country Radio which will also be appearing with an outside broadcast during the event.”
Details of the festival will be printed and distributed in early March, with all information being posted on the colerainegoescountry facebook and at www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/cgc