The grand final of the Drive Factor talent show is being held in the Millennium Forum on Sunday night - and it could well be a sell-out.
The contest, organised by Drive 105.3FM in asssocation with the Taxi Co. and the Derry Journal, has generated massive interest over four heats in recent weeks.
Now the twelve contestants for the final have been announced, and the judges and the voting will decide on Sunday night.
For the winner there’s the grand prize of a fly-drive villa holiday in Florida, sponsored by the Taxi Co.
The finalists are - Jessica Healy, Una Dunne, Arneil Long, Aaron Deery, Aoife McDaid, Gary Nash, Kelly Marie Collins, Eden Guthrie, Eugene Roddy, Bronagh Halpenny, Timothy Clarke and Joanne Leonard.
The evening will be introduced by Station Manager Felix Healy and compere will be presenter, Mickey Wilson. And watch out, Paul Doherty will be floating about with a radio mic during the interval. Each finalist will perform their chosen first song, the judges will comment but at this stage it is the public vote which will count.
After all twelve finalists have performed there will be an interval. The judges will retire to a private room to deliberate on their choices for the sing-off whilst the public will continue voting. In addition to text voting there will be voting boxes with the voting number, name and photographs of all twelve finalists – these will be located in the foyer. All voting ceases at 9.45 pm, and votes will then be counted and verified. Four finalists will go through to the sing off - two finalists will be selected by the pubic - the two finalists with the most combined public votes (text and voting box) - and two more will be selected by the judges.
The Drive Factor competition generated a huge increase on web activity for Drive 105.3fm and by heat 4 it had increased by almost 75%. In addition to this emails and texts to the studio also increased. Significantly, these came not just from Derry and the North West but from across Ireland and Britain and around the world, including New Jersey, Pensylvania, Washington, Southern California, Maine, Texas, British Columbia, Alberta, China, and Europe.
The Millennium Forum Box Office has reported brisk sales and booking for the Grand Final, saying demand has rockeeted this week and they are now expecting it to be a sell-out.
A spokesperson for the main sponsors, Taxi Co, said; “This competition has captured the hearts of the people not only in this city but also further afield. It is tremendous to see how events like this can generate support within the local community. The competition has opened much debate not only among our taxi drivers but also our customers.”
Station Manager at the award-winning Drive 105.3fm radio station, Felix Healy, said; ‘Drive 105.3fm would like to thank our sponsors, the Taxi Co, who made this competition possible and our media partners the Derry Journal for their support. We would also take this opportunity to thank most sincerely all the contestants who entered the competition.
“To the finalists - you all have shown yourselves in an excellent light throughout the heats. It is very heart warming to see the support and encouragement you all gave each other. This, in my opinion, was something unique in a competition. Thanks also to tutor and mentor Susan Durnin-Cassidy, N W Regional College, and her students, who will do hair and make-up for the final. Thanks to the public for supporting the finalists and also to my fellow volunteers thanks for the tremendous support you have given throughout the Drive Factor and the radio station over the last two years”.
Martin McGinley, Derry Journal editor, said; “I take this opportunity to congratulate all involved with the Drive Factor - the finalists, Drive 105.3fm and Taxi Co. I think it’s the first-ever local singing competition on radio and it certainly seems to have caught the imagination of local people. It’s also been another great showcase for the musical talent of people in this city and region.”