GALLERY: Beatboxing sensation crowned Fenland Has Talent winner after breathtaking final

BEATBOXING sensation Oliver Griffen was crowned Fenland Has Talent winner at Thursday’s breathtaking final at the Braza in March.

Oliver - who performs under the name of Griff - wowed the audience and the judging panel with his genius displays of vocal percussion to take the illustrious title ahead of 10 other fantastic finalists.

The 20-year-old from March was visibly stunned as he pipped drummer Sam Horvath and band Dave to the Patsy Brewin Trophy after the audience had voted the trio to perform in front of the judges again.

The crowd cheered as the three acts raised the bar even higher in what had been a fantastic night’s entertainment from start to finish as people of all ages came together to celebrate some of Fenland’s finest performing talent.

Twenty-three acts had hoped to reach the showcase event but just 12 could be selected from the auditions which were held at March Town Hall last month.

The judging panel - consisting of Rob Setchell, Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard reporter, last year’s Fenland Has Talent winner Luci Collins, March singing-sensation Aimee Peart-Webb, Isi Clarke of Grange Farm Studio in Emneth and Cambridgeshire theatre legend Michael Burrell - had the tough decision of choosing the night’s eventual winner and gave much-valued feedback throughout.

As excitement began building for the evening’s festivities comperes Katherine Nightingale, arts officer at Fenland Arts, and singer/musician and session worker for Fenland Arts, Bondy, announced that only 11 acts would be performing.

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Popular band Surviving Sunday had been forced to pull out at the last minute due to a family bereavement and Mrs Nightingale said “everybody’s thoughts were with them” before calling the first act to the stage in the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard competition - backed by Fenland Arts and the March Summer Festival committee.

March-based dance duo ‘Xposed’ got things underway with a humourous and up-beat routine to a homemade mix-tape. Lauren Russell and Lauren Kirby, both aged 15, clearly enjoyed performing together and their infectious friendship had the judges and the audience smiling in an instant.

Daniel McAlister, 20, from March was the next dance act to take to the stage with an electric solo contemporary dance display which included elements of ballet, jazz and modern styles.

With the evening’s dance acts out of the way the crowd were simply blown away by the night’s third act - eventual winner Oliver Griffen. Gasps could be heard in the audience as people wondered just how the talented 20-year-old was making so many noises with his own mouth.

It was as if three DJs were on the stage, not one performer with a microphone. The supremely-talented and super-confident showman had the audience laughing as he moved effortlessly between beats throwing in chart hits like Prodigy’s Breathe in the process.

He also took the stunned crowd through how he puts samples together giving a mind-blowing tutorial all at the same time. It was an incredible performance which received the biggest cheer of the evening so far.

The next segment of the evening belonged to vocal talent of a more normal variety as a host of fantastic singers and musicians took to the stage.

Singer/musician Christian Smith, 18, from Chatteris, played an acoustic version of Matchbox 20’s 3am, the adorable Alice Darwood, 13, from March, melted hearts with her version of Elton John’s Your Song before 28-year-old Michelle Eglen delivered a soothing performance of Nora Jones’ I Don’t Know Why which left the audience swaying along.

Steph Penman, 15, from March - who moved audition judges to tears with her version of Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah - belted out Whitney Houston’s iconic I Will Always Love You from 90s romantic-film thriller The Bodyguard.

And just as it seemed the singing talent couldn’t get any better Megan Green produced a breathtaking cover of Adele’s Someone Like You. The 13-year-old from King’s Lynn was forced to show nerves of steel after a technical glitch caused a slight delay. However, she showed maturity beyond her tender years to display her stunning range of sounds which draw a raucous applause from the audience.

Guitar player, Connor Orridge, 14, from Chatteris, soon moved his mother to tears with a fine medley of songs which included guitar riffs from Michael Jackson’s Beat It and Bryan Adams’ Summer of ‘69.

He was quickly followed on stage by super-cool showman Sam Horvath, 14, from Gorefield, who got the crowd going with a stunning solo drum display. He threw in a few tricks and smashed out a monster finish which received a thoroughly-deserved roaring ovation.

The final act of the 11 finalists - Dave - added some more rock to the proceedings with their own song, The Man I Am, even though they still remain unaware as to who had entered them in this year’s competition.

Owen Armstrong (vocals), Aidan Millward (guitar), Kevin Roweth (bass guitar), Craig Brown (drums) and Lee Ireland (guitar), even found time to deliver their version of Dizzee Rascal’s popular tune Bonkers as the opening part of the show finished with a bang.

While audience votes were collected and counted - with each member voting four acts they wished to put forward to perform again - last year’s winner Luci Collins, from March, took to the stage to belt out July Garland’s timeless classic Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Fenland Arts’ own Dudi Crew then performed their self-written charity single - to raise money for their association - Without You before March singing-sensation Aimee Peart-Webb joined them to belt out Katy Perry’s Firework.

The three finalists returned to the stage again, all upping their games to deliver even more incredible performances than they’d dished out earlier in the evening.

Oliver had the crowds in stitches with a humorous performance which included drum and bass samples and beats from chart hits like Salt N Pepa’s Push It and Kanye West’s Gold Digger.

Drummer Sam gave his second performance of the night absolutely everything before Dave, who admitted they were shocked to make the final three, asked the audience what song they’d like them to perform.

A pumped-up crowd chose Black Eyed Peas’ disco classic I Gotta Feeling, which stunning frontman Owen belted out with the help of drummer Craig Brown on vocals. Dave even found time to perform Kings of Leon’s anthem Sex on Fire, urging the audience to join in, leaving the judges to break off and choose a winner as the crowd cheered the three acts’ phenomenal final efforts - all worthy of winning the competition.

While judges deliberated, Bondy performed his song Five Miles From Anywhere and Tom Jackson, Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard’s Editorial Content Manager, took to the stage to give his verdict on the night’s proceedings.

Mr Jackson said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic night - all of the acts were simply stunning.

“I’d like to thank Fenland Arts - who without them this probably wouldn’t have been possible - the judges for giving up their time and of course all the acts and those who came tonight to take part in this event.

“If the summer festival in March is anything like this then we’re in for an absolute cracker.”

Lead judge Mr Burrell returned to announce their winner declaring that Oliver Griffen was the Fenland Has Talent 2011 champion.

Mr Burrell said: “It’s been a fantastic night and it genuinely was very difficult to choose just one winner.

“I’ve been in the showbiz game for a long time and all of the three acts who made it through have got it. They have all got big careers in front of them. I’d like to congratulate everyone who performed too because everyone was incredible.”

The sensational beatboxer was soon mobbed by his delighted family after being presented with the Patsy Brewin Trophy by Mr Jackson. He also won �100 cash, a photoshoot with Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard photographer Brian Purdy and a place performing in Saturday’s March Summer Festival.

If that wasn’t enough we’ve also promised to follow Oliver throughout the next 12 months as the winner’s media partner to help boost his profile. The 20-year-old will also appear at a host of other events around Fenland and Cambridgeshire as a result of winning the competition.

A visibly delighted Oliver then took to the stage again to display his talent for a final time on a night that proved one thing once and for all - that Fenland DOES Have Talent.

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