Rebecca Traynor tells of the amazing year she’s had since winning the competition in 2012 and her hopes for the future
It was the most nerve-wracking experience of her life.
Rebecca Traynor had practised the song a hundred times before, but this time it was different – a packed audience was watching and a huge prize was at stake.
In the end, she needn’t have worried. She nailed it, delivering a knock-out performance in her own distinctive style at the final of the city’s premier talent contest.
And with eager hopefuls once again auditioning for this year’s Edinburgh’s Got Talent, Rebecca can look back on a whirlwind year which she says has changed her life.
Today she is preparing to study classical music, is laying down tracks in a recording studio and has taken home more than a dozen awards and trophies.
“The way things have taken off in the past year has really taken me by surprise,” she says.
“I didn’t expect to get this far in a million years.”
The 16-year-old, known as Becky to friends and family, has demonstrated remarkable tenacity.
At the tender age of 14, she entered Edinburgh’s Got Talent and narrowly missed the top spot, coming in joint second place.
But the former Musselburgh Grammar pupil, who cites Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs and Jessie J among her favourite singers, refused to give up and redoubled her efforts with hours of practice.
Her performance of Katherine Jenkins’ Bring Me to Life wowed the audience and the judges.
As well as picking up £1000, the teenager performed at the star-studded Radio Forth Awards at the Usher Hall alongside Olly Murs, Stereophonics and The View.
That was only the beginning.
In February, she was named Musselburgh Rotary Club’s Young Musician of the Year and this month saw her perform at the Brunton Theatre as part of Musselburgh on the Fringes.
Rebecca, who lives with twin sister Emma, dad Robert, a telephone engineer, mum Karen, who works in Semichem and big brother Euan, also came first place in the talent show the Esk Factor.
She then went on to win Hamilton Park’s Got Talent and will perform on the Clyde 1 Breakfast Show later this year.
“The Hamilton competition was huge,” she says. “It was held at the race course and it was packed with people. When I won it, it was really unexpected – we thought we had no chance because the judges were all from Glasgow.”
But there seems to be no stopping Rebecca, who remains modest about her achievements, despite having won virtually every singing competition she has entered in the past year.
“When I was younger I just saw myself working in an office or something like that.
“I didn’t see myself getting up at 6am for singing rehearsals or going shopping for a dress to wear on the stage.
“But winning Edinburgh’s Got Talent really got me noticed.
“After the performance there were people waiting outside the Festival Theatre to get my number because they wanted me to perform at their weddings.
“People at my school were supportive of me and I got hundreds of messages congratulating me.
“I did get the odd person who would say, ‘oh, she’s rubbish’ and there were a couple of teachers who said they didn’t think I could make it because I was too shy, but I just had to keep my head up and ignore it.
“I’ve started writing my own songs, the lyrics and the music, and I’ve been in the recording studio because I’m putting together a demo for an album.”
Rebecca’s amazing talent took everyone, not least herself, by complete surprise.
Aged 11, she entered a competition at Pinkie Primary and sang Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – unbeknownst to her parents – and won.
“It was a surprise to me,” she admits. “I really didn’t expect to be able to sing.”
Rebecca also has a natural ability for teaching others, and helped her twin sister Emma learn to sing.
She said: “It was pretty tough because it was just the two of us and a keyboard.
“Emma has her own style, she sings pop while I’m still sticking to classical.”
Now the pair have found themselves competing in the same musical contests.
This Sunday will see them go head-to-head in Macmerry Miners’ Club grand karaoke competition, with a £1000 prize at stake – but Rebecca insists there is no rivalry between them.
She says: “We just try to support each other. If we’re competing in the same competition, we give each other a kiss on the cheek and say good luck.
“When there’s two of us, there’s a better chance of one of us winning.”
Her great-grandfather, tenor Lamont Smith, was also blessed with a fantastic singing voice and her family believe her talent may be in the genes. Robert, 59, says: “Rebecca’s performance at Edinburgh’s Got Talent was unbelievable.
“We never expected the progress she has made, we’re so proud of her – she’s regarded as one of the best young singers in Scotland now. She was told by a singing coach that she has the ability to twist her voice – she can go from opera into a normal voice, it’s amazing to be that versatile.
“The last year has been absolutely amazing for her. When she performed at Musselburgh on the Fringes there were people there asking her for her autograph.”
Rebecca, who has secured a place on a classical music course at Edinburgh College, hopes for a career performing or teaching music.
And the past year has seen her combine her talent with another one of her passions – charity.
“My gran Marjory had breast cancer and was really ill. She got better and I decided to shave off my hair because she had won the battle – now my hair is pretty much all gone. I had most of it cut off to raise money for a cancer charity.
“I’ve done singing for charity as well, I sang at Danderhall Miners’ Club to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. And I’m hoping once I’ve got an album recorded I can raise some money through that.
“I want to raise money for charity, but I also want to get noticed.”
Applications are now being taken for the fifth Edinburgh’s Got Talent contest, which will feature guest stars 911, and Rebecca has some advice for anyone looking to enter.
“A lot of my friends are interested in going for Edinburgh’s Got Talent.
“I just tell them to try and get as many votes as possible, practise a lot and if you get through to the final, just try and enjoy it and don’t be too scared.
“It’s well worth it – it’s changed my life.”
A few of her favourite things
Name: Rebecca Traynor.
Primary School: Pinkie Primary.
Secondary School: Musselburgh Grammar.
Last movie you saw: Monsters University.
Last album you bought: Jessie J, Who You Are.
Favourite bands/singers: The Script, Jessie J.
Last book read: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Last text sent: To a friend, think I just said hello!
Last tweet received: From X Factor’s Melanie. I had tweeted her and she said she enjoyed watching my YouTube clips.
Launch of promising career
• Wins Edinburgh’s Got Talent.
• Performs at the Radio Forth awards alongside Olly Murs and The Stereophonics.
• Named Musselburgh Rotary Club’s Young Musician of the Year.
• Comes first place in the Esk Factor.
• Wins Hamilton Park’s Got Talent.
• Performs at the Brunton Theatre as part of Musselburgh on the Fringes.