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Upminster’s James Smith tells of his experience on BGT

James appeared on This Morning, alongside the other BGT finalists. James appeared on This Morning, alongside the other BGT finalists.

Saturday, June 14, 2014
3:00 PM

Singing teen James Smith was catapulted into the spotlight when he set foot on the Britain’s Got Talent audition stage, making him a name, face and voice to remember.

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James SmithJames Smith

Singing teen James Smith was catapulted into the spotlight when he set foot on the Britain’s Got Talent audition stage, making him a name, face and voice to remember.

James, 15, from Upminster, made it to the final of the ITV talent contest but came sixth despite being told he was the “dark horse” in the competition by judge Alesha Dixon.

He said: “I am quite sad it is over but I have met some really lovely people, with the other contestants and everyone backstage and it was great to know I had a chance of winning the competition.”

James realised he could sing when he was nined, when he won the Essex Park Resorts karaoke competition at Valley Farm holiday park in Clacton, Essex, singing Devil in Disguise in an Elvis-inspired leather jacket.

Lettuc Botham and James Smith.Lettuc Botham and James Smith.

He said: “I have always been into music and don’t really know anything else that I’m interested in apart from working in the music industry.”

James is a lover of old fashioned music, with his favourite singers including Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra and the king himself, Elvis.

James said: “I like the fact that everyone had talent and their music was really raw, not like today where music is electronic and a lot of stuff is auto tuned. Older music is more from the heart and these classic singers really brought about the start of real music.”

But the determination to make himself known was really what pushed the teen to enter Britain’s Got Talent.

James Smith and David Walliams at the final of Britain's Got Talent.James Smith and David Walliams at the final of Britain's Got Talent.

At his first audition in London, the sang Nina Simone’s swing classic Feeling Good, where he wowed the judges and audience with his voice and cheeky “Essex” charm.

He said: “I chose Feeling Good because it actually does make me feel good! It is such a powerful song and I enjoy singing it.”

“When I get nervous, I get really cold. I don’t know why, but I do. Backstage, before I went on to audition, I started jumping up and down, so I probably looked a little strange.”

James then went onto the live semi-finals where he sang Gnarles Barkley’s Crazy which led him to be declared the winner of the night and a BGT finalist.

He said: “I wanted to try something different and to put my own spin on a song so that when people heard it, they would think about my version rather than just the original. I was overwhelmed and cried a little – which was a bit embarrassing!”

But in preparation for the big final, James had to juggle practising his performance with making appearances on radio shows, photo-shoots, as well as on ITV’s This Morning with the rest of the finalists.

He said: “That week was mental! It was rush, rush, rush. I was filming all of the time. It was quite stressful but a good kind of stress.”

James also sang at an assembly at his school, which was filmed by a Britain’s Got Talent camera crew and performed on YouTube music channel SBTV.

But he hasn’t forgotten his roots just yet, as he popped down to Dagenham Market to his dad’s toiletries stall, where about 200 people turned up after he announced the visit on Twitter.

The biggest moment of his life so far came on Saturday when he travelled back to the ’60s, performing Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness in front of millions for the BGT final.

He said: “I was nervous but the vocal coach just told me to go for it and as soon as I strummed my first chord, it was like I was in my own world.”

James was awarded sixth place, losing out to Collaboro, the five-piece musical boy band.

Della, James’s mum, said: “He did an exceptional performance on the night and we are so proud of him for everything he has done.” James said: “It was such an amazing experience and it sort of feels like an anti-climax now I’ve got to go back to school and catch up with studying.

“I’ve still got to finish Mice and Men when all I want to do is be in the studio.”

James will now go on tour with the rest of the Britain’s Got Talent finalists across the UK.

Read more:

Upminster teen James Smith makes it to BGT final

Upminster’s James Smith prepares for BGT final

Upminster’s James Smith comes 6th in BGT final

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