A North East musician is set to play his biggest gig yet at the opening ceremony of the FIFA Under 20s World Cup in New Zealand - the same day his wife is due to give birth to their first child.
Lee Gray, who was born in South Shields, moved to New Zealand four years ago where he has been developing his music career and has steadily built a following.
The 30-year-old has now been chosen to sing the official tournament song - This Is The One - during the event’s opening ceremony at Auckland’s North Harbour stadium on Saturday, May 30.
The venue will be packed with up to 26,000 people including FIFA President Sepp Blatter and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. The ceremony will also be televised and more than four million viewers are expected to watch it.
To top it all off, his wife Maggie, 26, is due to give birth that day.
Lee, who lives in Auckland, said: “This is going to be the biggest show I have ever done. There will be thousands of people in the stadium and it will be shown on TV.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m more nervous about the fact that our baby is due to be born that day.
“The stadium is about a 10-minute drive from the hospital. My plan is to sing the track, which is four minutes long, and then rush to the hospital if the baby comes along. We will have somebody on stand-by with a car.”
Lee, who went to St Wilfrid’s Comprehensive School in South Shields, has been passionate about music since he was a child. He studied music at South Tyneside College as well as at Newcastle University.
For around 10 years, he played in pubs and bars across the North East with his cousin Paul Snaith with whom he formed the duo Woodface.
This was followed by a tour around the UK before they headed to the south of France and stayed there for three years, performing throughout the French Riviera. He also met Maggie, originally from Hertfordshire, in Nice.
Lee said: “I then went travelling around the world and really liked New Zealand so decided to stay. I was only meant to be here for around a year but it has been four years now and we still like it.
“I’m doing really well with my music. I play at a lot of corporate events across New Zealand and released an EP with a band.
“Last year I got a call asking me to sing for the track for the Under 20s World Cup. I didn’t know what the track was at first. It turned out to be the official song for the tournament and has been used in TV adverts for the last few months.
“Then FIFA got in touch with me a couple of months ago to ask if I would like to perform at the opening ceremony and help kick off the tournament. I agreed to do it.
“The World Cup has become a pretty big thing over here and the country is really getting behind it.
“And it feels awesome to be able to perform at the opening event.”
The ceremony takes place on Saturday at 11.30am New Zealand time. The opening game will be between hosts New Zealand and Ukraine.
Original article - http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/south-shields-singer-perform-fifa-9331948