A YOUNG singer from the North Tyne has seen his fledgling music career go from strength to strength over the past year.

16-year-old Jason Arnup, from Bellingham, is a familiar site in the area after playing a number of gigs in pubs and town halls over the last few years.

But since leaving school last year, he’s found himself performing almost every weekend to larger and larger crowds.

However, up until recently, Jason didn’t believe he was such a good singer.

He said: “I never thought I was any good, so I started playing the guitar when I was six.

“The biggest inspiration was Elvis. I used to be a mad little Elvis fan and he inspired me to learn the guitar. By Christmas in Year 11, my voice completed changed and I knew I could sing then although it keeps changing all the time, it’s just finding my range.

“When I’m singing now, people think I’m a 25-year-old man – I sing with a deep, bassy sound.

“I’m not one of those young lads who squeaks down a mic.”

Jason covers a variety of tracks from different artists. He does have a few songs of his own, and accepts that this is something he needs to develop to further his career.

But he also sees each of the artists he covers as an inspiration to his own career.

“I play country music through to rock ‘n’ roll,” Jason explained. “I also play a little bit of modern pop, and the country I play has a rock ‘n’ roll beat.

“It’s for everybody. I cover Elvis and Johhnny Cash to Ed Sheeran and George Ezra.

“Nathan Carter, who’s a massive country singer, is one of my biggest inspirations, but with any music I cover they’re all an inspiration or I wouldn’t be playing it.

“I do a little bit of my own stuff, but there’s nothing major just yet.

“I only left school in June and I’m only 16, but I know I need to start writing songs.

“Hopefully in a few years I will be able to get my own stuff written, but there’s not much around Bellingham.

“You have to travel to Newcastle to a recording studio or anything professional and I can’t drive until June.”

Whilst studying at Haydon Bridge High School, Jason was averaging around a gig a month, but since leaving, he’s now a man in demand, and finds himself playing most weekends.

Recently, Jason performed a packed out Bellingham Town Hall, in what he describes as his best ever gig.

The proceeds were donated towards Breast Cancer research – a cause chosen by Jason for personal reasons.

He continued: “I lost my sister to cancer when I was six – she had a brain tumour – and I know somebody in the village with breast cancer too.

“We got 200 people in there and we raised £1,400. I was completely gobsmacked.

“To see that place pack as well, it was fantastic. That was my best gig.

“It was bouncing, and the support was fantastic, both on and off the stage.

“It was a nice thing for me and for everybody else.”

The young singer has played to bigger crowds before. He’s performed to around 600 people at school and he’s set to play to an even bigger crowd at this year’s Haydon Bridge Festival.

But Jason said he’s not phased by the idea of playing to bigger audiences.

“I’m very comfortable when I’m singing.

“I’d love a gig in front of a thousand, I’d easily do it.

“The first song I wouldn’t know how it was going to be, but as soon as I got into it I would be fine.

“I’m going back to Haydon Bridge Festival this year and I’ve got a later slot, so that could be the biggest crowd I’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to it.”

Jason is performing live at the Bay Horse Inn in West Woodburn tomorrow night with his performance starting at 9pm.