A HEXHAM singer whose popularity has been on the rise in recent months says it’s a surprise even to her.

Seventeen-year-old Lauren Simms is becoming a familiar face on the district’s music scene, with dozens of busker’s night appearances under her belt.

Her acoustic covers, mixed with some original work, have won plaudits from Tynedale’s music lovers despite her relatively young age.

Lauren has performed at venues across Tynedale, including the Pele Tower in Corbridge, the Vault in Hexham, and the Anchor in Haydon Bridge, as well as the Cluny in the Ouseburn and the Sage in Gateshead.

She can often be on the same billing as Ovingham’s Sam Shields – the pair are close friends.

Lauren said: “I’ve known Sam for a while through Buskers.

“He’s really good at getting gigs and opportunities, so I have to thank him for that.

“I went through a phase of not going to busker’s nights, but then I started up again and it’s all sort of exploding.

“It’s gone a bit mad, I wasn’t really expecting it!”

Lauren also performed at Haydon Bridge Festival earlier this month, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

She added: “I go to the Anchor Busker’s in Haydon Bridge. I’ve been there a few times and I get on with everyone really well.

“The organiser of Haydon Bridge Festival was there one night and he asked me to play.

“It was great, the sound was fantastic and it was a nice audience too. I really enjoyed it.”

However, the festival wasn’t the biggest crowd the singer and guitarist has performed for.

That came last year, when a friend won a competition run by Metro Radio.

Lauren explained: “Back in November one of my friends won a competition ran by Metro Radio. We got to sing at the Saltwell Fireworks display

“I play guitar, so I was backing her up on guitar and vocals. I think there was about 20,000 people there.

“It’s quite a good think to have under your belt at 17.”

Listening to Lauren perform – videos of her live can be found on her Facebook page – her influences are obvious.

She cites various acoustic artists as her inspirations.

Lauren said: “I’m massively into KT Tunstall, she’s a big influence for me.

“I’m also into Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. I play a bit of James Taylor too.

“I play quiet acoustic music. I’m working on some original tracks.

“I’ve got a few I perform live but I’d like to get a few together and put an EP out.

“I’ve got a friend in Wallsend who has a studio. It’s hard to say when it will be, but I’m hoping to get something out before the new year.

Lauren is currently a student at Gateshead College, and she’s hoping to continue her musical education when she goes to university in a year’s time.

It’s not surprising she’s pursuing a musical career, with a vein of talent evident in her family.

She continued: “Music is what I’m passionate about.

“My dad’s side of the family is really musical. He was in a band and my grandmother played piano. I really enjoyed singing from a young age. When I was about 12 or 13 I picked up a guitar and loved it.

“I’m self taught in guitar, but I’ve had singing lessons for years.

“I’m currently at Gateshead College doing music. They’re in partnership with the Sage so I’ve had a gig there. It’s normally in bands, but I’ve performed solo there too.

“I really fancy going to BIMM (the British Irish Modern Music Institute) – they have a campus in Brighton. I know it’s far away, but it’s screaming at me. I’m going to look around.”

Lauren will be performing at Haydon Bridge Social club on Saturday, June 29 along with Sam Shields and his band.