Edinburgh Has Talent: Toni Manson’s singing dream

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Midlothian singer Claire – aka “Toni” – Manson has told of her delight at making it through to the final of Edinburgh Has Talent after suffering a setback while studying musical theatre at college.

Preparing to sing an original track with Balgreen five-piece ROK at the Festival Theatre tomorrow night, the 30-year-old hairdresser said she was “amazed” at having another chance to lay the foundations for a career in performance.

Edinburgh Has Talent hopeful Toni Manson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Edinburgh Has Talent hopeful Toni Manson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

She said: “Musical theatre was what I really wanted to go into but I found it very difficult when I went to college – it was not as easy as I thought and I decided not to pursue it even though it was my dream.

“There was always a lot of regret about that so when I met the guys who are in my band and they gave me another chance, I thought I’d better take it.”

Claire, who lives in Gorebridge, said 
performing her single – a “dancy, poppy” track called Kisses in the Dark – would be key to getting back into music after her disappointment as a college student in her mid-20s.

She said: “I’ve never done anything like this before and the main aim of entering was that I was going to sing an original song and that if I got to the final, I would have that song heard by all those people.

“From there, you don’t know what doors it might open or who might be sitting in the audience. Of course, I would love to win but it’s not all about that.”

Claire – who adopted her stage name, Toni, after a band mate remarked that her real one rhymed with the surname of a well-known Labour prime minister – said singing for EHT judges would mark a huge change from day-to-day life as a stylist at her mum’s hair salon in the Borders town of Lauder. “I enjoy work but I love music and if I could trade it in tomorrow, I would – no looking back,” she said. “I don’t feel nervous – yet.”

Claire’s mum, Yvonne, 53, said: “She hasn’t really pushed herself that much and we haven’t really pushed her as much as we could have. So we’re absolutely ecstatic that she has got to this stage. Even to have that experience – to be up on stage and doing a live song – is fantastic. It’s the number one thing she’s wanted to do and I wish her all the best.”

For tickets to the final, visit www.edtheatres.com or phone the box office on 0131 529 6000.