Jan 22 2013 By Zoe Drewett
IN 2010, with the support of her parents and a friend, Gabriella Rego decided she would take a gap year from her Portugese and English course at King’s College London.
“I wasn’t planning it at all,” she said. “I did my first year, and over the summer one of my friends was planning to take a gap year.
“I was talking to her about it and my parents said: ‘If music is what you want to do, how are you going to go about it?’”
That was the moment when Gabriella decided she would apply to the Open Mic UK talent competition. As the name suggests, it is a mass entry, open house for pretty much anyone with a song in their heart and dreams of stardom in their head.
Run as numerous regional heats and rounds, the attrition rate is obviously high: many, many entrants do not get very far.
Gabriella, however, made it through to the semi-finals, where she was spotted by record company Baby Girl Music (BGM).
It made her an offer as life changing as it was unexpected: an EP of her songs, professionally recorded.
“I wanted to get to the (Open Mic) final and stuff, but I did not expect to start working and recording in a studio and release my own EP,” admits Gabriella. “I’ve had an incredible year.
“If I hadn’t taken my gap year I wouldn’t have tried Open Mic at all,” she goes on.
“I’ve done everything I wanted, and I wish I had done it before I had gone to uni, because I don’t know if I would have carried on.”
Her recording, Need to Know, is available to buy from HMV in The Chimes, Uxbridge.
Gabriella took it there herself and played it to the manager, who then agreed to stock her music in the shop.
“I never thought I would be able to get it into the shop, so now that it’s in there it’s a little bit of a stepping stone.
“It was really weird seeing it in there for the first time.
“About a week after it went into HMV I went in and just seeing it there was really strange, but so great. I took lots of photos,” she said.
The CD has been in the Uxbridge branch, in The Chimes shopping centre, for two months, and after 60 days Gabriella will find out how it has sold.
“I’ll have to wait and see,” she said.
Unfortunately, also waiting and seeing are the staff of HMV, which went into administration last week but which continues to trade for the time being. The future of the Uxbridge store hangs in the balance.
For the moment, Gabriella is juggling university with performing in the evenings. She says since Open Mic she has been steadily building up contacts.
“The more gigs I’ve done the more people I’ve met, and through knowing people you get asked to play at more places.
“I think I will keep doing what I’m doing at the moment. I’ll keep writing and maybe record another EP. I would be quite interested in going into musical theatre as well. I think I would try anything as along as it was related to music.”
■ As well as HMV in The Chimes, Uxbridge, Need To Know is available online on iTunes and Amazon, and can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.