The search for Hackney s talent continues

The search for Hackney’s untapped talent continued with auditions at the Hackney Empire, on Saturday (14 January).

As part of Hackney Council’s Discover Young Hackney12 (DYH), 30 contestants aged 13-21 danced, sang, rapped, and baffled the judges with illusions. Now, the best twelve acts have been invited to take part in the showcase finals on Friday 3 February 2012, at the Hackney Empire including 17 year old Rapper Ritz, who is looking forward to the finals next month.

He said: “The auditions went really well, and the judges gave me good feedback. Now, I can’t wait. I’m so excited about the chance to perform on the Hackney Empire stage at the finals.”

The auditions were judged by Susie McKenna, Hackney Empire’s Artistic Director and Kaz Hussain and Ife Oladigbolu, members of a band set up for the Alto Ego finals. All the judges were impressed by the standard of the entrants, so much so they put through twelve acts – six more than last year.

Commenting on the acts Kaz said: “The standard was really high and it was great to see so much variety. I’m really looking forward to working with the finalists in the run up to their performances.”

The 2012 finalists are: 17 year old Rapper Ritz; 16 year old guitarist Jess Furneaux; solo dancers Jasmyn Fisher- Ryner 14 and Tolu Okamnlawon 17; singers 16 year old Zoe Sadler, Jermaine Jackman 17 and Tiana Thomas aged 17; 15 year old rapper, dancer, beatboxer, Khallum Caller and 15 year old Illusionist Milly Croft. Groups Allanah Joy and the Scooters and Youngstarz. This year, for the first time, online winner Renee Dennie will join the finals next month.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture said: “Congratulations to everyone who entered and to those who have gone on to the finals. I’m looking forward to the showcase in February which is always a great evening. It’s really encouraging to see Discover Young Hackney getting better each year, this programme is one of the best yet, with so much for young people to get involved with.”

Discover Young Hackney, is now in its sixth year and is part of Hackney Council’s support of the Cultural Olympiad for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. DYH is a free festival which promotes participation and training in the arts for young people through a range of taster sessions and workshops run by creative professionals in music, dance, radio, art, literature, photography, design, singing, film and theatre.

The festival also showcases some of the best of the borough’s cultural industries and this year’s highlights include:

DocScreen; 13-19 year olds are invited to send documentary films, between one and five minutes, about their life in Hackney. The winners will be screened at the Hackney Picture House as part of a special event. Closing date for submissions is 6 February. For more information please contact the DFG Team - or 020 7249 6600.

Youth Take Over, Friday 3 and Saturday 4 February at the Hackney Empire, a weekend of live music, creative industries careers advice, talks and workshops.

Headstart House Weekender on 25 February at the Arcola Tent will close this years Discover Young Hackney 2012 with live performances and workshops.

The Design and Make programme features a Q&A session with Lady Gaga’s stylist Anna Trevelyan. Young people will also get the chance to sell their work on the Council’s Hoxton Street Market.

The Discover Young Hackney Festival runs from 3 February 2012 to 28 February 2012. Get the full programme of events and activities and ticket information for the showcase finals at and
Or, contact Kate Sullivan on 020 8356 7209 or email

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