Striving for a finals spot

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    VERDON College pupil Gabriel Lal is vying for a spot in the Smokefreerockquest national finals.

    The 17-year-old musician made the top 30 finalists from more than 800 entrants throughout the country. With those finalists now narrowed down to the top nine, there’s still one spot left to fill.

    The final spot, the ZM People’s Choice act, will be selected by public vote, and Gabriel said he was confident he had Southland’s vote.

    “Southlanders get behind Southlanders, the support here is pretty crazy,” he said.

    Gabriel was joined in the top 30 by fellow pupil Sam Cullen, who had already been chosen as a top 10 national finalist. It was the first time more than one Southland act had made it into the top 30.

    Entering a competition was a fairly new experience for the young musician, who said it took some coaxing from his music teacher, Emma Jarman, to enter.

    “I don’t see singing as a competition, myself, I just love singing and being able to express myself like that,” he said.

    “[Ms Jarman] is a really great teacher, I wouldn’t have done Rockquest if she hadn’t pushed me towards it.”

    Ms Jarman said both pupils had done “exceptionally well”.

    “We want Southland to get behind Gabriel by voting for him as the People’s Choice so he can take out the final 10th spot in the final. We want as many people as possible to text,” she said.

    To cast a vote for Gabriel as the People’s Choice act, text gabriellal to 407. Voting closes on August 22.

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