SINGING sensation James Arthur has the backing of a charity champion who was wowed by the X Factor star when he performed in Hartlepool earlier this year.
The 23-year-old from Saltburn, who is 10/1 third favourite to win the show with some bookmakers, was part of the line-up at this year’s Pitch Invasion festival, organised by town charity Red Dreams.
James performed as part of the James Arthur Band, and despite having never heard him or the band before the event, Red Dreams founder Dawn McManus said she was immediately drawn to his “soulful” voice.
She soon discovered that James had gone for an X Factor audition and after seeing on the James Arthur Band website that the band had cancelled gigs, Dawn, and husband Ian, both 42, put two and two together and realised he must have made it to the latter stages.
After watching the show and seeing him ease through the first live performance on Saturday night, Dawn is now in no doubt that James could go all the way.
“Personally I think he can win it,” admitted Dawn, who set up Red Dreams after the tragic death of her 16-year-old son Kyle in 2007.
“He’s different to what people expect and he’s not your typical popstar, but the emotion he puts behind that voice is incredible.
“He will definitely go far even if he doesn’t go on to win it.”
Dawn revealed that she didn’t watch the James Arthur Band perform at this year’s Pitch Invasion, but heard James singing from a distance and was hugely impressed.
“I was in the tent at Pitch Invasion selling tickets so I just heard the bands and artists playing,” she said.
“But as soon as I heard them playing I said ‘who’s that?’.
“It wasn’t the sound I expected from a band, it was so soulful.”
Dawn admitted husband Ian should get the credit for James performing at the festival. It’s Ian’s role to scour social networking sites and gigs to find local acts to play at the annual event.
And although Dawn admits it might be a long shot to get James back for next year’s festival, she will be cheering him on every weekend in the hope he will be crowned this year’s X Factor winner.