Arbroath musician sets sights on O2 Arena

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A FORMER Arbroath High School pupil is making her mark in the music world, having secured a place in the regional finals of the UK’s biggest unsigned band competition.

Singer/song-writer Karen Simpson (22) and her partner, Johnny Hood, are taking their act ‘Karen and Johnny’ to the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on March 31 for the chance of a place in the national final of ‘Live and Unsigned’.

On offer is a cash prize of £10,000 and the chance to perform at London’s O2 Arena and go on a UK tour.

Karen is excited about the opportunity, she said: “I feel thrilled to be part of such a big competition where it’s all about originality.

“It’s giving us a chance to get our music out to a wider audience and I just hope they can relate to it and enjoy it.”

She still feels a strong connection to her hometown having left only last year to study for a Masters in Research of Creative Practices at the Glasgow School of Art.

Karen explained: “As much as we’re representing ourselves and our music, we feel like we’re also representing the towns that we grew up in.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether it’s a small town like Arbroath or a big city like London, musical talent is everywhere and I think it’s important that people recognise that.”

Since founding their band just over three years ago, Karen and Johnny have played alongside numerous other artists, including Glasgow-based band ‘Pearl and the Puppets’, who supported Elton John in 2009.

The Live and Unsigned competition began five years ago and acts as a platform for some of Britain’s undiscovered talent.

Brand founder Francis Ajayi said: “We want to improve awareness of the depth and quality of talent in the UK. Our approach is all about celebrating talent and celebrating people, giving them opportunities to perform and develop.”

Last year’s competition winners, The Trinity Band, went on to secure a management contract, as well as £90,000 investment and will take to the stage in Toronto later this year.

If you would like to support some home-grown talent, tickets for the regional final in Glasgow can be purchased online at and are priced at £8.