A YEAR ago the closest schoolgirl Caitlyn Vanbeck would have got to her pop pin-ups was singing into a hairbrush in front of posters on her bedroom wall.
Little did she suspect that less than 12 months on, she would have performed to thousands of fans all over the country, shared the stage with some of her idols, and even started preparing for the recording studio.
But then a year ago was before 14-year-old Caitlyn won Edinburgh’s Got Talent.
With the latest edition of the Capital’s biggest and best talent search due to launch in tomorrow’s Evening News, the Ross High pupil has been taking the time to look back over her whirlwind year.
“I can’t believe that it’s that time again already,” says Caitlyn. “My mum and I had a real laugh when we did the audition video last year. I had a cold so kept having to re-record it. Dad was fixing the front door at the time, and just as I hit my final note at the end of the best take I’d done, his drill went off really loudly. I didn’t really think I was going to get through to the top 40, let alone win.”
But, after making the final, she did win, wowing the crowd and impressing the judges with a stunning rendition of Adele’s Don’t You Remember.
As well as picking up £1000 in prize money, Caitlyn’s victory also meant the start of an exciting journey, beginning with the other half of her reward – taking to the Usher Hall stage to sing at the Radio Forth Awards along with her idols, boyband The Wanted.
“I didn’t know they were going to be there,” explains Caitlyn, who lives in Tranent with mum Marina and dad Paul. “I was chatting to [EGT judge] Boogie and he asked ‘who do you want to perform with?’ so I said The Wanted. He whispered in my ear ‘I know who it is, but I’m not telling you!’ Then just before I was going on to sing I found out they were there and it was all I could think about. I came off stage and was looking for them everywhere before I heard that they’d invited me to go and meet up.
“I was quite obsessed with them before, but since hanging out backstage that obsession has gone mega.”
The boys from The Wanted weren’t the only pop stars that Caitlyn has been rubbing shoulders with. In April, she shared a stage with X Factor finalists The Risk, after being invited to take part in Young Variety 2012 in Glasgow.
“I was meant to soundcheck in the morning, but my slot was delayed so I ended up going on just as The Risk came into the auditorium. They stayed to watch and stood right at the front whooping and dancing along – it was so cool.”
The youngster clearly made a big impression on the band’s Charlie Healy, who has been keeping tabs on her progress since.
“Charlie has been really great,” acknowledges Caitlyn. “He’s been tweeting links to my YouTube videos to his fans and giving me some advice too.”
The celebrity encounters don’t stop there either. At the Gie It Laldy summer school showcase at the Brunton Theatre, Caitlyn joined Nathan James from ITV’s Superstar and Edinburgh musical theatre star Keith Jack.
In amongst all that, the aspiring popstrel has clocked up a host of other appearances, helping inspire the 5000 runners at the city’s inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in the spring, and being invited to perform at a variety of local charity gigs.
Caitlyn also took to the stage at two city Christmas events last year, singing at the Santa Run a few weeks after appearing with Britain’s Got Talent star Edward Reid at the Light Night concert in St Andrew Square.
The talented teen will feature alongside Reid again as one of the star performers at this year’s Edinburgh’s Got Talent final on October 26. Along with the ten finalists, the two will be entertaining the audience at the Festival Theatre.
Caitlyn’s winning streak didn’t stop with Edinburgh’s Got Talent either.
“In July I won the chance to sing with Reconnected and Lloyd Daniels at the Kaff in Wigan, which was brilliant, and I also sang Young by Tulisa for a competition with national radio show In:Demand and won tickets to see In:Demand Live,” she says.
As well as those triumphs, the talented teen also reached the semi-finals of Britain Does Variety and the Scottish final of Festival4Stars.
With all those fantastic experiences under her belt, Caitlyn admits it’s difficult to single out any one highlight.
“It’s really hard to pick a favourite out of them all, but I think it was winning Edinburgh’s Got Talent that still stands out. When I got home I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited. I was meant to be heading to Manchester for Britain’s Got Talent auditions the next day, but my head was all over the place so we didn’t go in the end.”
Fans of the hit TV show might yet see Caitlyn on their screens, however, after she confirmed that she’ll definitely be auditioning in the autumn. Having been noticed at the Glasgow heats in 2010, she made such an impression that producers have spent two years begging her to audition again.
“At one point we were getting calls almost every week,” she reveals. “I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t really worry about being the best or finishing first though,” she says modestly. “If people are happy with what I do then that’s enough for me.”
In the meantime, Caitlyn’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of another Edinburgh lass that’s really made a name for herself – Nina Nesbitt – after securing some coveted street performance slots at this year’s Festival. “That’s how she got spotted,” explains Caitlyn. But it was only because of her success at Edinburgh’s Got Talent that organisers allocated her an opening, after she initially missed the deadline to bag a spot.
After an enjoyable initial weekend busking outside the National Gallery, she’s got more lined up before heading back into the studio following an initial session at the Capital’s Verden Studios in July. “I can’t wait to go back,” she beams. “It was good fun and the guys were lovely. I’ve started to write my own stuff too. It’s just trying to find the time to do it all!”
Name: Caitlyn Vanbeck
Birthday: January 19, 1998
Primary school: Sanderson’s Wynd, Tranent
Secondary school: Ross High School, Tranent
The last movie I saw was: Brave
The last record I bought was: Believe by Justin Bieber
My favourite bands and singers are: The Wanted, The Risk, Adele and Jessie J
The last book I read was: A horror – Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill
The last text I sent was: To my best friend Tyler, with the times of my festival busking slots
The last tweet I sent was: To Charlie from The Risk, thanking him for all his support with my singing
Caitlyn’s advice for this year’s contestants:
“When you’re standing at the side of the stage about to perform, don’t keep going over and over your lyrics. That’s probably the worst thing you can do. I did that and started panicking because I thought I had forgotten the words. Just try and remember that once you’re on stage, you’ll be fine because it’s what you’ve practised hard for. All the nerves will go and you can try and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about being first, or second or wherever – it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve given all you can give. If you do yourself proud, then you’ll have done everyone else proud too.