Manchester star and Happy Monday’s legend Rowetta will be one of the judges in the final of the city’s very own singing contest, Printworks Unsigned.
Eight finalists will battle it out next Saturday for the chance to win The Printworks Unsigned trophy, a £250 cash prize and a recording session.
And Rowetta, who knows a thing or two about impressing judges such as Simon Cowell from her time on The X-Factor, told MM that Printworks will be very different to the usual TV contest.
“There won’t be sympathy stories. I don’t like sob stories,” she said.
“A lot of the acts will be singing their own songs too which is good, it’s not like a TV competition.
“I was very keen to do it, it’s my cup of tea because it’s open to any age, there’s a really good mixture of contestants and there’s bands too.”
No stranger to a music contest, Rowetta famously appeared on ITV’s X-Factor in 2004 and was the last woman standing, beating off her competitors with fiery performances.
“To be honest if I hadn’t of had a drink before I probably wouldn’t have applied,” she confessed.
“But I’m very grateful for it. It gave me loads of confidence. Simon Cowell told me I was good and no matter what you say about him if he says you’re good then you know you are.”
The annual contest sees solo singers, duos and bands flocking to Manchester City Centre, eager to jump on stage to show off their talents.
“It’s brilliant that Manchester is having its own contest because a lot of great singers don’t get spotted,” continued Rowetta.
“I know what it’s like to have a great voice and not get spotted, so I go out of my way for any others.”
Her years in the music business have seen her tour the world with the Happy Mondays, sing with Frankie Knuckles and Joy Divison and even enjoy a spot in America’s Top Ten chart after featuring on the hit Boom, Boom, Pow with the Black Eyed Peas.
With her wide-ranging experience, Rowetta believes this places her in a better position to judge than other, perhaps more famous TV faces, and she knows exactly what she’s looking for.
“I want to see originality, it doesn’t always make you a star but I’d rather people sung from the heart because you can tell when someone is focusing too much on the notes and not just singing,” she said.
“Singing from the heart is what I do.
“You see all these copy cats, girls trying to do runs like Christina Aguilera and they just can’t do them.
“Christina struggled doing them, Whitney (Houston) struggled with them, copying them you just end up sounding like an impersonation.”
Despite her own time in the spotlight on X Factor, Rowetta believes that the best way to really get ahead is to get up on stage ‘at any opportunity’, put in the hard work gigging and that shows such as BBC Ones ‘The Voice’ end up ‘disrespecting singers’.
“After the first round it gets painful to watch, like the battle rounds, where two great people have to outperform each other, just doesn’t seem fair to me. It’s disrespecting the singers,” she said.
“Of course the person with the stronger voice will always win, but the quieter singer is just as good, if it was me I wouldn’t even try to sing a soft song because you know that you wouldn’t have a chance.”
This is where Printworks Unsigned differs as the finalists are encouraged by Rowetta to ‘go out and do as many gigs as possible’.
“You don’t have to go on TV, just practice everywhere you go,” she said.
“I practice every day. In the car, in the shower, in the bath, just everywhere. It makes your voice stronger and improves your confidence.”
Ultimately, the winner will be someone that wows Rowetta, who is looking for that person with that special something.
“I want to see someone who when they walk on stage they’ve just got that something,” she admitted.
“They might be shy but they can still get up on stage. A bit like Rebecca Ferguson.
“The contest is great exposure and a great platform. It’s not on TV but you still don’t know who could be watching.”
Rowetta will be joined on the judging panel by Dave Foran from Manchester Radio, Terry Snowden and Phil Ireland from Exit State.
The public are also encouraged to take part too as 25% of the vote for each contestant is gathered from an online poll.
To watch the acts sing and to cast your vote visit:http://www.theprintworks.com/the_place/printworks_unsigned_voting/.
The final is tomorrow (April 12) so don’t delay!
Image courtesy of ManAlive!, via Flickr, with thanks