In 2014 singer-songwriter Tara Flanagan made it through to the grand final of Open Mic UK. Although she didn't win the contest, her talent enabled her to get picked out by producer Gareth Henderson of River Studios to help record some of her original material. Tara is now preparing to launch her debut single Run, Run, Run at a special launch party at Mr Kyps in Poole on the 28th June.
'I'm really exited about performing all my new original music and seeing how people react to it." Tara tells me she's been writing since she was 13 and singing since she was 6, but even in just a few years she's managed to write many songs and develop her own style. It was this songwriting and vocal talent that made the judges at Open Mic take notice.
Tara tells me about her Open Mic experience. "2 years ago I entered the competition for first time and performed cover songs, I got through the area final but I didn't get through to the grand final. It was a bit of a knock back and at the time I was upset." Tara didn't let this dissuade her from following her ambitions and decided to enter the competition again and this time she got through to the grand final at Birmingham NEC. "It was a great experience to get there and perform my own songs, that was really cool."
These initial set backs were also the inspiration for her first single, Run Run Run. Tara says that many of her songs carry a positive message "lots of my songs are about perseverance and are inspirational songs."
Renowned producer and vocal coach Gareth Henderson took Tara under his wing to develop her work in preparation for releasing her first EP. Gareth has worked with many well known artists including Corrine Bailey Rae and Birdy so he is no stranger to bring out the best in singers both vocally and sonically.
Gareth was responsible for producing Run, Run, Run. The track which is an piano and guitar based electro pop song has a nod to Evanescence and Kelly Clarkson. "It was great working with Gareth and finding the bigger sound that I wanted for the track." Tara's distinctive vocal style makes her stand out amongst her contemporaries and if this track is anything to go by she can certainly write a memorable song and is destined to have a strong future.
The video, shot by Glen Jevon, sees Tara running across fields barefoot interspersed with some great atmospheric images of Tara in the sea which help create an ethereal video that adds mystery of the song. I ask Tara what it was like making her first music video. " It was a great experience, but I was exhausted afterwards with all the running." She jokes. "It was good fun."
When I spoke to Tara she was in the middle of taking her final A Level exams in English Literature, Language and Theatre Studies. "It's been quite a struggle if I'm honest, balancing studies and music. It's helped me with my time management and it's made me realised how much I want to be immersed in music and creating my own music."
Despite being very young, her own personal experiences so far and the mentoring from Open Mic has made sure that she can go forward in her chosen career knowing what to expect. "I'm aware of how tough the industry is, but I'm really determined." Speaking to Tara, she certainly comes across as older than her years and not only approaches her work with sincerity, but is also receptive to learning and drawing inspiration from other musicians. "I'm inspired by so many musical genres, it's hard to pinpoint one artist, but I am listening to quite a lot of songs by Banks at the moment so I guess I'm quite inspired by her at the moment."
It's really exciting to speak to such a talented young singer-songwriter who is just beginning her musical journey and has so much passion for what she loves. Tara will release her debut 5 track EP later in the year, and says "hopefully there will be a song for everyone... I'm really excited about getting my music out there and letting everybody hear it." We can't wait either Tara!