She may only be 14, but singer-songwriter Leoni Jane Kennedy, from Thornton, is becoming quite a big name in music circles.
The Millfield Science and Technology College student – who has topped national music contests – has been given a sponsorship deal with instrument-manufacturing giant Yamaha.
Company bosses were impressed with Leoni after seeing her win the nationwide Rock The House music competition, in which she performed at the Houses of Parliament.
Leoni, who has been playing guitar and singing since she was just eight and writing her own material since the age of 11, has also been selected to perform at a big summer festival in London.
She will sing in Paddington Square, for the Marylebone Festival, which showcases up-coming national artists. The event will raise money for Kids Company, a charity which provides life-changing support for vulnerable and deprived children.
Leoni said: “It’s so exciting. I couldn’t believe the news about Yamaha.
“When I took part in Rock The House, I won some Yamaha equipment, it’s brilliant to have that endorsement from them. I feel really proud.
“I’m really excited about the Marylebone festival, although a bit nervous – with the number of people going and also the people, from the industry, who could be there.
“The charity it’s raising money for is a really good cause and I enjoy doing events in aid of charities and doing things to help people.
“I did a butterfly CD, which raised £500 for Brian House.”
Leoni recently performed in the 2014 Rush EuCon convention, in Crewe, an event celebrating Canadian rockers Rush – one of her favourite bands.
She has also received praise from Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, who presented her with an impressive sculpture made in her honour.
Leoni got her first guitar at the age of four and started learning to play.
She boosted her confidence by taking part in local open mic nights in Cleveleys.
She said: “One of the bands, Barking At Thin Air, has really helped me and been really good to me, so I’m really grateful to the band members.
“I’ve always loved music. The sort of music I liked listening to is completely different to the music I write and perform.
“I like Rush, Status Quo, KT Tunstall, I like a load of different artists really.
“I’m not sure where my inspiration comes from. It just comes from the heart, I suppose.
“I think I sometimes forget about my age and just feel like the same age as everyone else I perform with.”
Proud mum Katrina Lyall said: “The news about Yamaha is great, to have that endorsement from a company like that.
“Things just really seem to have taken off in the last year. She’s doing so well.
“She loves school and she makes sure she fits music around school and homework. I am ever so proud of her.”