A SINGER who first took to the stage 18 months ago has made it to the finals of a talent contest.

Kelly Knight, 31, is one of 20 budding stars battling it out to be named champion of the last ever Factor Essex competition.

She discovered her love for singing when she was just four years old, but it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that she finally plucked up the courage to perform in public, and began singing alongside Eddy Stacey, from 1970s band Bullet Blues.

Kelly, of Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey, was soon on stage alone, belting out power ballads to customers at the island’s pubs including the Lobster Smack and Admiral Jellicoe.

She said: “I have entered other competitions, but this is the first one I have got this far in. The judges said what they love about me is I always give 100 per cent.

“I get nervous before I go on stage, but once I’m up there performing, I am in my element.

“I would love to have a career in music.

“The main genre I like to perform is power ballads. I like to do a bit of a Celine Dion tribute act.”

She decided to enter the sixth and final series of Factor Essex, run by Basildon promoter Lee Knell, after her partner John Piccard, suggested the idea.

He said: “A lot of people have put her down in the past and it’s really affected her confidence and held her back, but I’ve just tried to build it back up again. Two years ago she wouldn’t sing in public.

“The voice is absolutely beautiful. It would be wrong to not let the world hear her sing.”

The final will take place on Sunday, May 4, with a recording contract up for grabs.

For more information visit factoressex.net