Finalists are chosen for the 2012 Drive Factor competition

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Twenty-five talented local singers have been selected as finalists for the 2012 Drive Factor after a busy day of auditions at the Tower Hotel on Sunday.

They’ll battle it out over four heats in the New Year for the top prize of £3,000, donated by the main sponsors the Taxi Company.

The competition is organised by local radio station Drive 105.3fm, with the Derry Journal as media partners.

Sunday’s auditions were recorded live for a programme which will go out on Friday 7th January.

MC Mickey Wilson told the Journal; “It was certainly very entertaining. Most of the entrants were nervous and some extremely nervous but they all did very well. It’s just a pity everyone can’t go through to the live heats. Thanks to all the entrants for a great day and congratulations to all the 25 finalists who got over the first hurdle.”

The finalists, in no particular order, are Bobbie Harvey, Jennifer Kelly, Gary Scott, Nicole McGee, Joanne Leonard, Sara Stewart, Laura Brown, Shaneen Clifford, Denise Coyle, Aaron Deery, Ciara McCafferty, Rose O’Reilly, Gavin McLoone, Audrey McLaughlin, Eimear Sweeney, Aoife McDaid, Emma Gallagher, Gareth Borrow, Jackie McCready, Breda Timoney, Daniel Carlin, Dianne Guthrie, Megan Owens, Brian McLaughlin and Jovy Dumdum.

One of the judges, Eileen Warren - alias Drive’s Rikki T - said; “It was difficult to chose the finalists as the standard was even higher than last year and I believe it will be a tough competition to judge. There isn’t anyone I would single out just yet as a winner. I do have a few I am looking forward to hearing again.

“All those who auditions gave an excellent performance, even though some were very, very nervous! I don’t think it is a one horse race, it’s going to be tough and I know that Drive 105.3fm will do everything to make this an enjoyable experience for all the finalists.

“The Drive Factor is a wonderful opportunity to perform live on radio and for those who go all the way, another wonderful opportunity to perform in front of a large audience at the Millennium Forum next February 11th.”

The four live heats start on Friday 14th January, and each week text voting will decide who stays in the competition. Those involved will hear of their fate either by tuning into ‘The Results Show’ on Monday evenings during Paul Doherty’s regular show or by checking Tuesday’s Journal, where the finalists for the next heat will be published.

On Sunday there were quite a few of the entrants who chose to audition with songs by Adele, including ‘Hometown Glory’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’, while Eva Cassidy’s ‘Songbird’ and ‘Fields of Gold’ also featured. Other choices included Amy McDonald’s ‘This is the Life’, Celine Dion’s ‘One Moment in Time’ and the Jennifer Rush classic ‘The Power of Love’. There were also familiar songs from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Dusty Springfield (‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’), Michael Buble, The Calling, Cliff Richard, and Judy Garland (‘Get Happy’).

Also on the judging panel were Ronnie Brolly from the Taxi Company and Mickey Doherty.

Drive 105.3’s Felix Healy said; “The Drive Factor is a great opportunity for local talent to be heard, not only here in Derry but around the world. Remember to tell friends and family not resident in the city that they can also be part of the Drive Factor by tuning in online at www.drive105.co.uk and they can also email their comments to: live@drive105.co.uk Last year the Drive website had record hits during thanks to the Drive Factor.”