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South Shields singer hits the big time down under

A South Tyneside-born singer-songwriter says he is living the dream after playing to his biggest live crowd to date. When Lee Gray decided to settle in New Zealand five years ago, he never imagined he would perform at one of the country’s largest music festivals. But that’s just what happened when the 32-year-old was asked to take his place on stage at Coca Cola Christmas in the Park in Auckland. The event is one of the biggest in the country and attracts more than 100,000 people.

Lee, who has been building a music career in the country he now calls home, previously performed the official song at the opening ceremony for the 2015 FIFA U20s World Cup. Following that performance he was contacted by the event’s artistic director, who asked if he would be keen to get involved. Dad-of-one Lee, originally from the Lawe Top, South Shields, said: “I remember going to the show just after arriving in New Zealand and thinking how amazing it would be to one day perform on such a big stage and to such a huge crowd, so to get the call five years later was incredible.

“You can’t get much bigger than this event in New Zealand - it is such a personal accomplishment for me. All the crew were fantastic and we had quite a few rehearsals, so everyone knew what they were doing. “We had a 14-piece band made up of some of the best musicians in the country, I also had the chance to share the stage with Barry Conrad, who is a big name in Australia.

Lee is now hoping to take his experience to further his career in the music industry by going back to his songwriting roots. He is looking to finish and release a new album in the near future. He added: “I used to write my own music, but since my son was born I’ve not really had as much time as I would like to have dedicated to it. “But now he is a little bit older, hopefully I can get back into it, that’s my aim for this year, and to finish the album I started a year ago. “I’ve been writing for other artists and I’d like to look at doing some collaborations in the future also.”

Lee, who studied music at South Tyneside College and Newcastle University, is a former member of local duo Woodface, but has steadily built a following in his adopted country.

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