Lowestoft is centre of rock universe

Britain's most easterly point feels like the centre of the music universe at the moment.Lowestoft rockers The Darkness narrowly missed out at the Mercury Music Prize on Tuesday and 24-year-old Pop Idol wannabe Helen O'Brien, from Kessingland, is vying for TV success – singing to survive tomorrow night after being chosen from more than 20,000 to make the final 50.

Britain's most easterly point feels like the centre of the music universe at the moment.

Lowestoft rockers The Darkness narrowly missed out at the Mercury Music Prize on Tuesday and 24-year-old Pop Idol wannabe Helen O'Brien, from Kessingland, is vying for TV success – singing to survive tomorrow night after being chosen from more than 20,000 to make the final 50.

Helen will perform as one of the first 10 finalists in front of the judges including 'Mr Nasty' Simon Cowell, in a bid to secure a final 10 place.

If she is picked she could soon be following in the footsteps of fellow East Coast winner Mylenne Klass, who went on to find fame.


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Helen, who is living in New Malden, Surrey, auditioned with Beverley Craven and T'Pau songs.

And although she is tight lipped about her choice of song tonight she said her own pop idol is Tori Amos. "I really admire her heartfelt lyrics and adventurous songwriting.

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"I've worked long and hard towards this dream. I'm focused and ready for action."

Mum Gillie Powell said whatever happens Helen's feet will still stay on the ground.

Simon Cowell's reputation for upsetting the contestants would not worry her daughter.

"If he's horrible to her, I think she will manage quite well," she said. "If she goes forward, she will make an excellent role model to the young people who will be her fans, which is important in that business, Helen will always be Helen."

Music teacher Graham Walsh, who taught her at Gisleham Middle School, said she had a "stunning voice" and he had sent a text message wishing her luck.

"I have my own recording studio at my house in Carlton Colville, and Helen came down and made a fantastic demo CD with a couple of her own songs and a Bjork one."

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