Arts and Culture
Daniel Wilsher playing a black Steinman and Sons piano on a green floor with screen and C4 logo in background

The Piano finalist shared how talent show appearance was ‘written in the stars’ ahead of new series

A Greater Manchester singer-songwriter has described how appearing on a TV talent show helped him sing his own music for the first time. 

Daniel Wilsher, 27, from Ramsbottom was a finalist on the first series of Channel 4 talent show, The Piano, hosted by Claudia Winkleman. 

The mental health speaker wrote and performed an original piece of music on the show and credits it with securing his place in the final. 

She said: “Initially I was just going to play the piano – they [the judges] didn’t know I could sing too.

“As part of my public speaking role, I was telling people to push out of their comfort zones and to live as their authentic selves but had to remind myself to do that too. 

“That’s when I wrote ‘Learn to Live’ – it all came out in about 30 minutes including the chords, lyrics and everything.

“That song was powerful enough to take me to the final – it was perfect for me and perfect for the show.”

He was chosen by international pop star judge, Mika, and world-renowned pianist, Lang Lang, to play at London’s leading classical music venue, Royal Festival Hall, alongside three other finalists. 

The Piano series one finalist Daniel Wilsher performing in Manchester Arndale with The Traitors finalist Jaz Singh

Daniel, who now lives in Manchester, continued: “The experience was magic, I loved it all.

“I bumped into ‘The Piano’ team while I was playing outside Forsyth Music Shop and everything stemmed from that. 

“The way it happened so organically made it just magical – I felt like it was written in the stars.” 

Daniel lost his dad to suicide when he was nine-years old, which had an impact on his subsequent journey through education and the corporate world. 

He studied music at Bury College and began his ‘dream’ music degree at Leeds University but dropped out due to a decline in his mental health. 

But he struggled to maintain a job and developed issues with substance abuse.

He said: “Going to therapy transformed my life – I’ve learnt so much about how powerful conversation is. 

“Facing up to my dad’s death gave me the confidence to deal with the smaller things that I was finding tough in my daily life. 

“Performing at the Royal Festival Hall was a challenge but nowhere near the size of the challenge I’d had to go through for years beforehand.

“From the music I play and write to the mental health work – all of it is rooted in using my lived experience to help other people with things they are facing.” 

Daniel is now one of the UK’s youngest public mental health speakers, giving talks in schools, colleges, universities and businesses.  

Playing the piano at a Channel 4 event in Manchester last weekend, he said: “I’m excited for the upcoming series and I think it will invite some serious talent.

“Even just today in the Arndale, we heard 10-year old Ethan from the first series of The Piano play alongside so many other amazing people – the way he moved around the keys left me in awe. 

“If the standard of talent is like what we’ve seen in Manchester this weekend, I know it’s going to be an amazing show.”

The second season of The Piano airs on 28 April at 9pm. 

If you or someone you know needs support, Samaritans are available day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit to find your nearest branch.

Header image @LValentineJourno

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