Denai, 15, in Live and Unsigned final

FIFTEEN-year-old singer-songwriter Denai Moore has a coveted place in the final of the Live And Unsigned 2009 competition. She is one of only 20 finalists, who battled through the ranks after more than 10,000 people entered throughout the UK. The youngest

FIFTEEN-year-old singer-songwriter Denai Moore has a coveted place in the final of the Live And Unsigned 2009 competition.

She is one of only 20 finalists, who battled through the ranks after more than 10,000 people entered throughout the UK.

The youngest entrant in the London area, the Forest Gate schoolgirl was allowed to enter the competition late after her talents were spotted by an engineer in a studio where she was recording. He knew the organisers of the contest and managed to get her an entry for round two.

And his suspicions were right, as Denai romped to victory, first in the east London regional contest, and then in the London and Essex-wide area, which saw her grab a place in the final, to be held in Portsmouth on June 27.


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Denai told the Recorder: "At the time I was in the studio, I was more focused on learning how to write and compose songs, than entering any competitions. To reach the final is amazing.''

Denai, of West Road, Forest Gate, studies at St Angela's Ursuline Convent School, St George's Road. She has a younger sister, Ayana, 10, and an older brother, Dein, 21. The family relocated to this country in 2003 when her mother Angela, previously a headteacher in Jamaica, took up a deputy head post in Custom House.

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Denai's father, Kenneth,is the driving force behind her promising career. He is a musician, who played with various bands in Jamaica and the UK.

Denai explains: "Both my parents help keep me grounded. My dad has a lot of experience in the music industry so that is a great help to me, but my mum always stresses that I must do well at school to be allowed to work on my music. It's a challenge to maintain the balance sometimes and I can get tired if I have too many late nights, but my dad says that is good experience of how busy my life will be if I am successful in the music business."

And it's surely this grounding that will give Denai the best chance to succeed - that and her raw talent.

"I began composing songs and playing guitar and keyboards when I was nine or 10.

"I'm always practising, working on riffs and melodies. My passion is for fusion, like rock and reggae or rock and blues. When I was younger, I was inspired by people like Bob Marley, particularly for his songwriting.

"I love Kelly Clarkson, who fuses pop and rock, and also Kings of Leon and Oasis, and old people like The Beatles and Bob Dylan."

Denai won the London area final, in Basildon, with her breathtaking rendition of Abba's Dancing Queen, fused in with her own song, Changes, but has her sights firmly further than just the final.

"I'd like to see myself as having a long career in the music business. It's every songwriter's dream to make a proper album, have a record deal and work in the business for a long time, and that is my dream, too.''

And Denai can start with winning that final in Portsmouth at the end of this month, when first prize will be a record deal.

To see Denai's winning performance at the London and Essex-wide area final of Live And Unsigned, go to YouTube and enter Denai Moore - Live And Unsigned.

- MATT TROLLOPE

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