Plucky Shae lights up O2 Arena stage
TEENAGE ukulele player Shae Maunders is on her way to stardom after performing in front of thousands in the final of a national singing competition.
The talented 16-year-old missed out on being named the overall winner of the Open Mic UK contest but she didn't walk away completely empty-handed.
Judges handed her the Exposure Award in recognition of the attention she had attracted in the build-up to Saturday's event at London's O2 Arena.
Alongside the accolade, the Alsager High School pupil was also handed £500 to spend in a recording studio.
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Shae, from Newchapel, pictured right, said: "It was a really good experience and very enjoyable.
"I couldn't believe how many people were there."
Shae and her family headed down to the capital on Thursday to avoid the predicted heavy snowfall.
Shae added: "It was hard to concentrate on much before the show.
"When we got to the arena I did feel a little nervous about going out on to the stage.
"Playing in front of about 3,000 people was really overwhelming but after coming off stage I just wanted to go back on and do it again."
The Rihanna fan was among 30 artists to reach the final of the competition's under-16s category after seeing off hundreds of rivals in regional heats.
The climax itself was judged by industry experts and Shae hopes they will remember her 'unique' voice.
Accompanied by her trusted ukulele, she performed her own piece, Soul Bird, along with the Snow Patrol hit Chasing Cars.
"The exposure this has given me has been brilliant and it's all been really exciting," she said.
"Winning the money and the Exposure Award was really good.
"After I have been in the recording studio I will look to put some stuff on to YouTube and really get myself out there.
"I really love performing and it is what I want to do."
Shae has already made a name for herself in the Potteries after reaching the final 12 of last year's Stoke's Top Talent.
She started writing her own songs at the age of 13 and began playing the ukulele around two years ago.
Shae, who also lists Jack Johnson as one of her favourite artists, added: "I would love to go on to become a full-time musician and I will of course carry on playing the ukulele."
Mum Karen, who works as a dog groomer, said the whole family was 'exceptionally proud' of her daughter.
The 39-year-old said: "It was just amazing to see her up on the O2 stage.
"She performed really well and it was fantastic to see that.
"To reach the final is amazing and we are all so proud of her.
"The exposure this competition has given her has been incredible and with there being so many people from the music industry at the event, we just hope they will all remember her name.
"It's all about her getting out there and hopefully being spotted."