Hundreds hope to have shown their X Factor after TV show's Derby auditions
The X Factor, the huge TV talent contest, brought its auditions roadshow to Derby. Jonny Birkin met a few of those hoping to make it on to our screens.
When Shereen Hardy was quizzed on which song she would sing in front of The X Factor audition panel, the answer was easy.
"Heartbreak Hotel, by Whitney Houston," she announced confidently, before performing her rendition of a song she has loved to sing since she was a teenager.
The 21-year-old was among scores of popstar hopefuls trying to prove they have what it takes to be the next Leona Lewis, Olly Murs or JLS at The X Factor's mobile auditions yesterday.
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Like her pop idol Whitney, who died earlier this year, Shereen has been turning heads at her local church with powerful performances in the choir and other singing groups.
And her performance in The X Factor tent at Derby's Market Place wowed show producers so much that she was invited back for a second audition.
Shereen, from Derby, said: "I was quite nervous before I went through to the audition but I'm so familiar with the song and I know I can sing, so I was all right in the end.
"I love Heartbreak Hotel and it's weird because, when I was 13, we played a Pop Idol game at school and it was that song that I performed and it went down really well.
"Now I've done the same thing at The X Factor, which is what Pop Idol became, and it went down really well again."
Shereen is a member of Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Church, in Boyer Street, and has made a name for herself over the last few years with her voice.
She is now part of a singing group at the church, often taking centre stage with a group of backing singers in support.
And she said that experience gave her an extra jolt of confidence when she faced the music at yesterday's event.
"I'm quite a confident person in general and even though I was nervous to begin with, I knew I could do it," she said.
"I know I've got the voice to go through to the next stage and, if I do, it'll be fantastic.
"But if I don't, I'll just be pleased to have given it a shot and have had the chance to have a go."
This year, X Factor bosses decided to head out on the road with a mobile auditions tent to try to reach towns and cities that the usual arena tour does not.
Singers and groups were invited to perform in front of one panellist, who then decided whether to invite them for a second, recorded audition based on the strength of their performance.
Everyone who made it through to that stage now faces a nervous wait to find out if they have been invited back to perform in front of the glittering X Factor panel of judges, who will include Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and, probably, Tulisa Contostavlos.
Hoping she had done enough to wow the judges was Keira Woodhouse, from Madeley Street, Normanton.
The 17-year-old, who sang two songs before getting her recall for a second audition, said: "It was really nerve-racking, waiting in the line to be called up for the first audition.
"I decided to sing a song called Weakness In Me, by Keisha White, and after I'd done that they asked me to sing another, more up-tempo one.
"I could feel my heart racing in my chest but I managed to keep it together and did RIP by Rita Ora.
"Then they asked me to come back and sing again in front of the cameras so I had a couple of hours of waiting around, biting my nails, making sure I knew the words to the songs I had in mind!"
Keira also had her own mini-entourage at the audition, consisting of her family and friends, all of whom were cheering her on when she stepped back into the tent for her second stint.
Mum Sharon said: "She's a brilliant singer and she definitely has what it takes to win it. She's wanted to try out for The X Factor for years and she's been singing since she was a little girl. We're always telling her to be quiet!"
Street cleaner Stuart Boon raced to the audition queue at the end of his day shift – and was so desperate to get there in time that he still had his hi-vis jacket on.
But he said he hoped his Streetpride uniform would give him that little bit more X factor and help him stand out from the crowd. The 28-year-old had an extra curveball to throw at the judges, by deciding to sing Edelweiss from The Sound of Music.
Stuart, from Victory Road, Sinfin, said he had been thinking about auditioning for a few days.
He said: "I was thinking about whether or not to go for it the night before and then I watched Britain's Got Talent and it spurred me on.
"I thought, why not? I came down to the auditions and still had my hi-vis on, which will hopefully make them remember me.
"I was practising in the queue before my audition and I've got a backup with Westlife if they ask for something other than Edelweiss."
Just behind Stuart, waiting patiently for her second audition, was Buckso Dhillon.
The mother-of-two was auditioning for The X Factor for the second time, having had a shot in the 2009 series.
And she said she had even had a go at entering The Voice, which is the BBC's version of the talent show hunt for a recording artist.
That audition process, at the end of last year, saw her get involved with a charity single, as part of a supergroup of singers. It hits the shelves next month.
The 39-year-old said she hoped her age would not get in the way of her bid to be the next X Factor champion.
She said: "I know there is the category for older singers but, quite often, it's the younger ones that make the headlines.
"What I have to offer is someone who is determined to make a success out of music and I hope that I can do that on The X Factor.
"I'm not a veteran singer, so I don't have any of the bad habits that you can pick up from touring pubs and clubs and things like that.
"I'm just someone with a voice and hopefully that will see me through."
The X Factor and The Voice were not the first taste Buckso has had of singing for television. When she was 13, she added her voice to the theme tune of kids' TV show Why Don't You, which earned her a can of Tango as payment.
She said: "My friends were walking home from school and singing and a producer from the show ran out and asked them if they wanted to help sing the theme tune.
"They ran to my house, I asked my parents if I could go along and they eventually said yes, and I was suddenly singing the theme tune in a recording studio."
Buckso said her inspiration in the competition was her nine-year-old twins, Ruben and Renaya, the latter of whom has already put in a request for a horse if Buckso goes on to win the lucrative recording contract later this year.
And Buckso, who earned her callback thanks to a rendition of At Last by Etta James, said that her strict upbringing was another fuel that drove her on to want to succeed.
She said: "When I was growing up, my dad always told me to look at the pop stars that I wanted to be and said why would I ever succeed at that?
"He wanted me to get a respectable job and to just get my head down, to not have those dreams.
"That's why I've got to have a go, because I went against that culture and that upbringing and if I don't at least try, then that struggle to do my own thing and be my own person will not have been worth anything."
The buzz of excitement at the auditions, which ran until about 4pm, filled the Market Place, with hundreds of shoppers stopping to watch the contestants waiting for their chance to shine.
Charlie Pidcock stood out thanks to the guitar case he was carrying – something he says helped him out when it came to performing in front of the panel.
The 21-year-old, from London Road, Shardlow, said he had decided to sing a song he had written himself, called Lucky Guy, but performed that without his guitar.
He said: "The judge then asked me to sing a second song and encouraged me to play the guitar as well, so I'm really glad I took it along."
Charlie said his nerves ahead of the audition actually helped, as it allowed him to tap into the emotions needed to perfect the songs he sang.
He said: "I think I did really well with the performance and hopefully I've done enough to go through to the next stage.
"I definitely think I have what it takes to win The X Factor – and that's not me being cocky.
"I think you have to have that confidence to succeed and that's something I'm lucky enough to have."
PICTURES: Pictures from yesterday's auditions