The Open Mic UK competition attracts more than 10,000 acts every year, as it travels around the country searching for the UK's best singers, songwriters, rappers and vocalists.

16-year-old songwriter and pop singer Alia Lara, who lives in Winchmore Hill but grew up in Hackney, was the winner of this year’s final, which took place last month.

Her passion for performing began at the age of four and she managed to secure a place at The BRIT School, in Croydon, to study musical theatre at the age of 14.

As the winner of a national competition, the singer and songwriter looks set for a bright 2017.

Alia reveals her plans to release an EP later in the year and how her interest in music was almost inevitable due to being born into a musical family…

How did it feel to be a winner of Open Mic UK?

It was honestly gobsmacking and unexpected. Being part of the competition was an absolute honour.

Was it a tough process to go through or did you enjoy it?

If anything, I made sure I enjoyed each and every step of the process leading up to the final. I didn’t let anticipation or my nerves get the best of me, as I think that once something you love doing is no longer fun, there is definitely something wrong there.

Can you tell readers about your style of music?

I would describe my music as fun, catchy, pop with a twist of culture.

You write your own songs too?

Yes I love writing songs, I just feel it’s the easiest way to express myself.

Where did your passion for music begin?

My passion for music began as a child. I loved to dance and sing to all my favourite music videos and imagine I was the pop star. As embarrassing as it sounds, that is where my family realised I had a passion for music.

Is anyone else in your family musical or just you?

Pretty much my whole family is musical. After my granddad, I was the only one to take my music seriously. My family is extremely supportive because they all have a personal connection to music.

What was it like to attend the BRIT school?

Without The BRIT School, I would have honestly never believed in myself. It was a dream come true but not in the way you would think. The BRIT School is full of so many inspirational people and it's honestly my second home. Not only is it an amazing place but it’s a safe place for anyone and everyone who are passionate about something they want to pursue. They welcomed me and my crazy personality with open arms and they accept everything and anything.

What do you hope from the future - to become a pop star or sing in musicals?

Honestly, I hope to do both, but it's been my dream to become a pop star.

Do you plan to study music anywhere or just keep performing as much as you can?

I plan on getting my music out there as much as I can.

Have you got any other upcoming gigs in north or east London that people can go and see?

I am currently trying to get an EP together. As soon as I finish it, I will be organising a lot of gigs around London, so watch out for those.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Making music and having fun with it.

What advice would you give other aspiring teenagers who want to become singers too?

If you’re going to dream about something, you may as well dream big. Find all your strengths and all your weaknesses; find your limits and work to exceed them because anything is possible. Never let other people’s opinions define you. Keep on doing what you love – that is the most important thing. Don’t go for short cuts because the best thing about arriving to your destination is the journey and the amazing lessons you learn on the way.

To find out more about Open Mic UK or to enter the competition, visit: