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Fjanna are pick of the bunch in talent show

Fjanna were the judges' pick for Shetland's Got Talent 2016 on Saturday night. Pictured, from left, are Anya Johnston on piano, Jodie Smith on fiddle and Mike Laurenson on accordion. Photo: Davie Gardner

A TRIO of young traditional musicians were crowned Shetland’s Got Talent winners for 2016 at a sell-out event which raised over £5,000 for Cancer Research UK on Saturday night.

The talent contest at Mareel was a precursor to next month’s biennial Relay For Life event, taking place at the Gilbertson Park on 28 May.

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Fjanna, a trio made up of Mike Laurenson on accordion, Jodie Smith on fiddle and Anya Johnston on piano, were voted winners following what organisers described as a great night of entertainment.

In all 11 acts performed before a judging panel of Malcolm Younger, Jillian Isbister and Davie Gardner during an evening compered by Jonny Polson and Lewie Peterson, along with their sidekicks Peerie Jonny and Lewie (Jacob Henderson and Callum Fraser).

The panel’s other two top picks on the night were the classical piano recital of Alyssa Gair from Lerwick, and young ukulele group Micro Bru.

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The Shetland Gymnasts were the first act to perform before a sold-out Mareel. Photo: Davie Gardner

Organiser Sheila Duncan said she was “impressed by the different range of stuff that was there” and the “real winner on the night was the charity”.

She said Fjanna had already won medals and trophies in an accordion and fiddle competition on the mainland, while individually each of the trio has also scooped traditional music prizes locally.

They’re a “very talented young group of folk”, Sheila said: “Most folk were of the opinion that they were deserving winners, though equally it was hard to pick a winner for the whole night.”

The night was kicked off by Shetland Gymnasts, storming the stage to perform to a backing track of ‘Fight Song’. Sheila said one of the judges was “terrified” by the routine’s finale, involving one of the gymnasts being held aloft by two fellow performers, balancing on their outstretched arms.

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Micro Bru, meanwhile, consisted of seven year olds Joe Smith and Jayden more and their five year old siblings Lori Smith and Liam Moore. They were accompanied by Arthur Nicholson, deputising for his father Brian, and treated the audience to their version of ‘Wagon Wheel’ on multi-coloured ukuleles.

Sheila said they deserved full marks for getting the audience to sing along, adding they “definitely had the cute factor!”

Micro Bru placed in the top three, bringing Arthur Nicholson to his knees in the process. Photo: Davie Gardner

Alyssa’s classical piano, meanwhile, demonstrated “what can only be achieved by many hours of dedicated practice combined with natural ability” as she ran through ‘Two Trees’ by Ludovico Einaudi.

Other entrants included sibling singing duo Heather and Rhea Isbister, a favourite “poem” read by Shetland Arts general manager Graeme Howell (which in fact transpired to be the Stock, Aitken and Waterman song ‘I Should Be So Lucky’), comedian Marjolein Robertson, vocalist Leah Jones, duo Gail Wiseman and Carol Jamieson and Stetson-wearing country singer Bob Skinley.

Hundreds of folk are sure to be taking part in the Relay for Life six weeks from now, with 61 teams registered so far.

The event is shifting to the Gilbertson Park to Clickimin this year due to construction work on the new Anderson High School, and Sheila is confident it will work well.

“The site there is actually bigger, and we have the games hall too,” she said. “We’ve managed to sort out a track that we can use which will protect the grass and hopefully be better for folk walking on. We’re hoping it’s going to be as good if not better on the new site.”

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