One of Croydon's first reality show stars helping to support young people in music
AUDLEY Anderson was the star of a music-based TV talent show long before the days of X Factor and The Voice, as Sarah May Hayes discovers..
THE dream of competing in a TV talent show is one many have, but only few fulfil.
Audley Anderson has lived the dream, though, and is now putting his efforts and experience into making sure young people get the chance to follow his path.
It has been nine years since soul singer Audley beat 30,000 hopefuls to earn a place on BBC show Fame Academy, one of the first talent competitions in a genre which would later spawn hits like The X Factor and The Voice.
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Audley, from Thornton Heath, wowed the judges with his soulful voice and earned a place in the "academy", since when his musical talents have taken him across the world.
"Things have been going really well since Fame Academy," said Audley.
"Every two weeks I fly to Egypt, Crete or Tenerife to perform for Sensatori holidays, which I love. I do a little bit of my own stuff and a lot of Motown.
"It can be a bit tiring going to and from a country, but there are big perks."
Unfortunately, Audley was voted out of Fame Academy in the early stages but didn't let that faze him.
Since the show, as well as travelling the world, the 40-year-old has toured with Boyz II Men, released an EP, and has also begun charity work with Ark Academies that enables him to pass his experience onto young students.
He said: "No performance is ever the same and I will always love singing and will always perform, though I'm really focused on teaching right now.
"I have gone into lots of different schools around London with Ark Academies to teach kids about music and how to utilise their talents. We need more Croydononians in the music industry.
"I've helped the kids make music videos or set up a little record label. And it's been really great because some of them will go and do their revision, then come to do stuff with me in their breaks because they have such a good time. It's about teaching kids how to really use their talents.
"They have no idea about business plans and they all say 'oh yeah I'm going to get famous', but I say 'what then?' You can't just live off that, it doesn't always work like that.
"I like to sit them down and show them how to use their talents properly. I am working with Year 11s who have become real role models and it's brilliant."
Reality shows like The X Factor aren't universally popular in the music industry, but Audley says they can be a great way to get your talent recognised.
He added: "I would definitely tell my students to go for it if they wanted to compete on The Voice or some sort of TV show. They're a brilliant way to get experience.
"I just want young kids to know to get focused and keep positive and they will get to where they want to be."
Audley used to work as an IT analyst but started concentrating on his music career just before Fame Academy in 2003.
His first musical appearance was as the Little Drummer Boy in a school nativity when he was nine years old, but he didn’t start performing seriously until he was 24.
Audley works for Ark Schools, a charity that runs a range of health, welfare and education projects in the UK, Africa, India and eastern Europe.
His debut EP, Journey Into Soul, was released last year and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.