A soul singer who tried to break into showbiz in TV’s X Factor is in the running to compete in the national final of Open Mic UK at the O2 in London and win a record deal.

Beating competition from across the south east, Khorale Stewart, from Thornton Heath, has earned herself a spot in the regional finals after amazing the judges at the Open Mic UK auditions with her own song Never Give Your Love Away.

Stewart first started singing in her school choir when she was a pupil at Norbury Manor High School and in her church choir.

She said: “I like singing in a group, but I felt restricted. I wanted to be a solo artist.”

Musicians such as Lauryn Hill, Betty Wright and Bob Marley inspired Stewart to become a singer and she enjoys listening to soul, reggae, gospel music and R’n’B.

She also plays the keyboard.

Stewart previously auditioned on the X Factor and has plans to audition for the BBC talent show The Voice for next year after watching the shows unique style of blind auditions.

She said: “In about five years time I would want my music to have worldwide exposure and write songs for other artists.”

Last year teenager Shak Forbes, also from Thornton Heath, went all the way to win the title of Open Mic UK champion.