UAE’s got talent

UAE’s got talent

Dubai Modern High School was more West End Theatre over the weekend, at the grand finale of a student talent show.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Thu 13 Dec 2012, 9:05 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:08 PM

On Saturday evening, the school played host to the final of this year’s ‘Best of the Best’ and, after attracting throngs of music lovers from across the UAE, Callum Bell took out the junior section, while Tandiese Mumtaz came out on top of the seniors.

After wowing the judges and pipping 14 other finalists, the talented duo took to the stage one last time to be crowned the winners, with cheers from the crowd turning the air electric.

The two-hour singing spectacular, which saw talented UAE youngsters sing hits from an array of industry legends including Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, kick-started with a group performance, with all 16 singing Leonard Cohen’s classic, Hallelujah.

With red velvet draping framing the main stage of the auditorium, the room emulated that of a top West End Theatre and the talent on show certainly gave professionals in the business a run for their money.

Heading the evening’s proceedings was show director Kevin Oliver and host Sheetal Khullar Adhvaryu, who both promised for a night of talent that would “shock and amaze” and as the crowds began filling the auditorium, the atmosphere backstage was surprisingly calm. With the contestants grouped together, blasting out the odd note in between chatter, the image was one of great showmanship.

In the middle of the pack was the youngest finalist Aaina Padiath from The Millenium School Dubai. With her competitors towering over her, the vivacious 9-year-old held her own on stage. Speaking to Khaleej Times before the show, she admitted to feeling a little nervous, but when asked what her favourite type of music was, all nerves faded away: “I love rock,” she said excitedly, fist pumping the air.

Singing Michael Jackson’s, Who’s Loving You, the little powerhouse dazzled in a shimmery white dress, with those in the crowd roaring her support.

Junior winner Callum was the fourth to perform on the night and as he climbed onto stage in a crisp white tux, cheers rang out from the audience as he started singing Beyonce’s hit Listen. As he energetically moved around on stage, hitting every note perfectly, one audience member praised the young talent for his “incredible set of lungs”.

Following an eclectic mix of performances, including a sensational acoustic solo by 11-year-old indie princess, Saffron Collins, it was time for the ‘seniors’ to take to the stage and as the stunning Amber Creaven started singing her captivating rendition of Titanium, wolf whistles echoed from the sidelines.

Leander Dias – the sole male competitor in the ‘seniors’ category – was one of the quietest backstage, but as the spotlight hit him, he transformed into a powerful presence on stage. With an animated performance of Adam Lambert’s What Do You Want From Me the auditorium exploded into applause and as he bellowed out his final note, one onlooker shouted: “We love you, Leander”.

The final act to perform, and eventual winner, was 16-year-old Tandiese Mumtaz. Speaking backstage, the confident songstress said she never got nervous before singing, because it “means everything” to her. She also confessed: “When I’m on my own, I sing a song as me, then I pretend to be Simon Cowell and I start judging my performance,” she laughed.

The singer chose Alicia Keys’, No One as her final song as she said it best showed off her vocal ability. Wowing the crowd on stage, she urged the willing audience to clap along and as the passionate performer finished the song in a cappella, horns starting honking in the audience, with some onlookers standing to ovation in applause.

As the finalists regrouped back on stage for the announcement of the two winners, the panel of judges including Tyler Smith from Trinity College of Music and local musician, Richard Wilson, said the exceptional talent made for a tough call.

The prize ceremony saw Callum pick up Dh10,000, while Tandiese took home Dh15,000 and beaming from ear to ear, Tandiese’s mum said: “She’s had a cold for two days, so she’s really put her all in. I’m so proud of her.”

More news from