Here's where you heard him first

If The Voice organiser Boycie Tawhara was sure of anything as he helped pack up after last week's finals concert it was this - Caleb Cross would be heard again, on a much bigger stage than that provided by Te Ahu.

"He was absolutely perfect. He was mean," he said of the 12-year-old Kaitaia Intermediate School pupil, who was awarded 30 points out of 30 by three of the judges and 26 by the fourth.

An audience of 400 filled the community centre for Thursday night's grand final concert, 15 contenders giving it their all in the hope of being crowned Far North Voice junior or senior champion, with $500 and $1000 respectively up for grabs.

Caleb Cross was a clear standout in the Grind Studios junior section with a surprisingly mature version of Op Shop's One Day, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with Abundant Life School music teacher John Pirini adding a second (and providing backing for several other performers).

"I didn't think I was going to win it," Caleb said later, looking a little shell-shocked. He admitted to suffering a touch of stagefright before the performance but any nerves had obviously been brought well under control by the time he took the stage.

Another 12-year-old, Laura Gorrie (Cooper's Beach), won the crowd favourite award with her rendition of Katy Perry's Part of Me.

Also notable in the junior division (for performers aged 13 and under) were the youngest finalist, eight-year-old Te Hauroa Tawhara-Crown, with a confident Do I Do, (Stevie Wonder) and 10-year-old Ida Lene-Tepania (Kawakawa), who was show-stoppingly resplendent in a blue satin evening dress.

The Ahipara Surf Bros senior division (aged 14-19) was far more closely contested, but in the end the winner was 19-year-old local (now Waikato-based hip hop dancer) Vincent Saulo, who nailed John Legend's passionate ode Ordinary People, edging out 15-year-old Amber Cook-Savage by just half a point. Jackson Ratu (Te Kao) won the crowd favourite award with a crowd pleasing rendition of Van Morrison's Moondance. Also notable was Te Kura Taumata o Panguru student Merekara Kay with her killer version of Ave Maria.

The finale represented the completion of a two-month journey, not only for the 15 young artists but more particularly for Boycie Tawhara, who has gone out of his way to provide a forum for young Far North talent, and no doubt will do again.

And providing one of the evening's highlights by his very presence was legendary rocker Ray (I'm really here to tell you about my new album) Woolf, there as a celebrity judge alongside Kaeo reggae band 1814 bass player Jimmy Colbert.

Woolf, who delivered a very slick Crazy Little Thing Called Love, during the show, said he was very impressed with the way the competitors had expressed themselves.

"Quite amazing. You've got some very exciting talent here," he said.

Visit the Far North Voice facebook page for grand finals night pictures and videos.

- Northland Age

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