Interview: Michael Rice | Living North

Interview: Michael Rice

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Michael Rice
Hartlepool busker Michael Rice recently won BBC singing competition All Together Now. He chats to us about the show’s best bits, missing out on the X Factor and embarking on a unique tour

When I found out about the competition I was in the garden hanging the washing out.
I got an email from a girl called Georgia who said she’d seen my videos on YouTube, and she asked me if I’d like to audition – all contestants on the show were scouted out. At first I was unsure as I’d already been on the X Factor when I was 16 in 2014, and after leaving that I was convinced that I could pursue a music career on my own. I’d spent a few years working at McDonalds and busking on weekends, but after thinking about it more, I decided to give it a shot and went to the first audition in Manchester. 

The experience was so different to the X Factor.
At the first audition we had to sing three songs in front of some of the producers and vocal coaches, including CeCe Sammy who has coached on various TV singing competitions. I waited about three weeks after that and was then invited to an audition in London. We performed for the BBC executives who made the final decision on whether or not we’d be on the show. 

All Together Now is a singing competition with a twist: the panel of judges is made up of 100 musical experts from around the country, headed by Geri Halliwell. 
During filming, we were completely separated from the 100, as we weren’t allowed to influence their judgement. I spent the whole time with the other contestants and really got to know them – we’re like a little family. 

I auditioned with my favourite karaoke song.
I chose Proud Mary by Tina Turner because the aim is to get the judges up singing and dancing. Getting all 100 votes from the them for that performance was definitely a highlight.

My list of musical icons is never-ending.
Adele, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and Stevie Wonder are all on there. I’m aiming for quite a pop-y sound in my own music but I want to keep the storytelling element of soul music in there. 

Growing up in Hartlepool, I was always singing and dancing to make everyone laugh.
When I was six I attended Billingham Forum Theatre School of Performing Arts and was in a few musicals at school. I had a break from it after being bullied, but got back into it at the age of 14. 

I’m using the fact that I’ve won a TV show to help other kids who have been bullied. 
It’s something which always knocks you back – I know I felt quite vulnerable and didn’t dare tell my parents for a while. I’ve just contributed backing vocals to an anti-bullying single called Bruised which was recently released by CeCe Sammy and Ben Ofoedu of the group Phats and Small, with all proceeds going to children’s charity Barnardo’s. The Grenfell School Choir, Asher Knight and X factor contestant Luena Martinez also sing on there.

This is part of a wider campaign called The Power of Muzik.
Throughout April we’re visiting over 20 schools in the country, performing the single and sharing our own experiences of bullying to remove any stigma around the topic. 

To find out more about Michael and the campaign, follow @MichaelRiceOff on Twitter and visit www.powerofmuzik.com/wp/ 

Published in: April 2018

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