Talented Hartlepool singer hits high note with scholarship

Dan Cooper with Mick Donnelly and coach Elena Larkin.
Dan Cooper with Mick Donnelly and coach Elena Larkin.

A young musician’s singing career has reached a crescendo after being awarded a scholarship.

Hartlepool schoolboy Dan Cooper will be mentored by Elena Larkin, a vocal coach at the Mick Donnelly Academy, as part of a scheme to support and fine tune local talent.

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

The 12-year-old pupil at St Hild’s CofE School has been singing for the past three years and already enjoyed considerable success, including performing in the West End with PQA Tees Valley, an academy run by Pauline Quirke, on CBBC and auditioning for Jayne Eyre at Billingham Forum.

He said: “I started singing along to music videos and people said I had a good voice.

“Now I love performing in front of people so the scholarship is a real privilege that will help me develop.

“I was first on at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, which was nerve-racking but was an experience to remember.”

Now, I love performing in front of people

Dan Cooper

Elena specialises in the Seth Riggs singing technique, widely used in the music industry as it helps the voice develop without damaging vocal chords.

She said: “Dan was very shy at first but has grown into a lovely, confident person, who is hard working and we are very proud of him.”

Mick Donnelly, a backing saxophonist for singer Lisa Stansfield, who founded MDA in the Hartlepool Enterprise Centre 20 months ago, said: “I have never seen anyone improve so much in so little time, which is all down to him and his enthusiasm.

“We are delighted to offer him a scholarship which he richly deserves.”

MDA is a hub for the London College of Music examinations and provides tuition for musicians, who make the most of its six studios, cafe, library, IT room and instrument, accessories and record shop.

It also stages fundraising jamborees in pubs and eateries across the town to finance the scholarships.

For more information about the academy visit www.mdamusic.com.