UON’s Ernie reflects on Britain’s Got Talent final with Northants Sings Out

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Singing from the wings in each performance by Northants Sings Out was one proud member of the University of Northampton family – Ernieford Barrett, Library and Learning Services Customer Service Assistant.

Saturday-night TV favourite, Britain’s Got Talent had never seen a choir reach its final ten acts – that is, until local vocal powerhouse, Northants Sings Out arrived to sing and dance their way past the competition.

The Northants Sings Out Choir (NSO) comprised 66 singers from Northants and Choirmaster Gareth Fuller who, through their three stage performances, conducted renditions of gospel songs, 90’s club classics and chart hits.

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Singing from the wings in each performance was one proud member of the UON family – Ernieford Barrett, Customer Service Assistant within the University’s Library and Learning Services team.

Ernie pictured next to behind-the-scenes 'BGT signErnie pictured next to behind-the-scenes 'BGT sign
Ernie pictured next to behind-the-scenes 'BGT sign

Growing up in Jamaica, singing his way through school before moving to the county and continuing his choral journey with The Royal and Derngate, Ernie was excited to hear he would be performing on one of the UK’s most recognisable stages as part of local community choir, Northants Sings Out.

“Since I was a child, music has always been an important and enriching part of my life,” Ernie explains. “From singing as a young boy in my Anglican church choir, to joining my high school choir, to signing-up for The Royal and Derngate Community Choir and Northants Sings Out – singing gives me a feeling like no other.

“When we stood on the Britain’s Got Talent stage for the first time, in front of all those people and judges, everyone in the choir drew energy from each other. It just felt electric. We were living in the moment, taking it all in and enjoying the memory of a lifetime as it was happening.

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“I’ve never told our Choirmaster, Gareth this, but his choice to include gospel song ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ in our audition was really special to me. When I was young, I sang alongside my dad (he as bass, and me as an Altar Boy) – and I always remember this was one of his favourite songs.

Ernie pictured beside his UON colleagues, Dr Emel Thomas and Evelyn Muling.Ernie pictured beside his UON colleagues, Dr Emel Thomas and Evelyn Muling.
Ernie pictured beside his UON colleagues, Dr Emel Thomas and Evelyn Muling.

“To be part of Northants Sings Out, as a man and as a father myself, singing this in front of hundreds of people in the auditorium – and hundreds of thousands of people through the TV – is an experience I’ll never forget.”

After celebrating reaching the show’s top 10, receiving glittering reviews from judges Simon Cowell, Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden – and even receiving endorsement from popstar Madonna – Ernie reflected on his journey from church choir to stage star as part of Northants Sings Out.

Ernie explains: “I moved from my hometown of May Pen, in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica nearly fifteen years ago with my wife and our children, hoping to build a brighter future away from the turbulent political state of Jamaica at the time. After an uncertain couple of years, I found myself working as a Customer Service Assistant at UON in 2012 – and I haven’t looked back since!

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“I really enjoy working with staff, students and members of the community as part of my role at the University. I’ve never been afraid of meeting new people and starting a conversation – which is perfect for my role!

“I pride myself on filling my time with things that give me joy. I’m currently in my final year of studying Engineering part-time at UON, I enjoy supporting my wife with her local business, Caribbean Dutch Pot, and I’m a member of several choirs, including Northants Sings Out and the UON Staff Choir.

“I’m confident the future looks bright – but one thing’s for sure, this won’t be the last time you’ll see me on a stage!”

Additional UON members of the choir included Widening Access Manager Natasha Mycawka and Natalie Adusei, a Senior Social Worker and UON graduate who sang the solo section of each performance.

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All three performances shared on YouTube have already racked up a whopping 450,000 views within the last few weeks.

In case you missed them, you can watch Northants Sings Out’s audition, semi-final performance and final performance on YouTube.

To find out more about NSO, follow them on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.