The longtime agent of Lancaster X Factor hopeful Paul Akister says he’s got a great chance of winning the entire competition.
Lester Simpson first met Paul when he was 16 and knew straight away he had a special talent.
Since then Lester, who runs Clubland Entertainments in Carnforth, has told anyone who would listen about the quiet lad from Lancaster with the killer voice.
And he’s bursting with pride that Paul has made it to the live shows of the hit TV talent search.
The popular soul man, 25, will be watched by millions of viewers when the live shows begin on ITV1 tomorrow night (October 11).
Lester, also a standup comedian whose stage name is Lester Crabtree, said: “When I first met Paul eight years ago I remember thinking this lad is going to be a superstar because he’s got a voice to die for.”
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Paul in his journey to the top.
“I remember trying to get him quite a lot of gigs in the early days and some (venue managers) kind of dissed him, they didn’t seem to think much of him,” said Lester.
“They didn’t seem to trust my judgement. I pushed and pushed him and got him gigs for eight years. Now we’ve got people ringing up all the time trying to book him.
“I always had belief in him, and knew that one day he would get his chance to shine.
“You’ve got to learn your trade and he’s done that. He’s worked extremely hard, travelling up and down the country doing gigs.”
Lester said critics who say Paul’s shy personality will hold him back are being unfair.
“He’s honest and genuine, and his talent is enough. I think he’s got the best recording voice in the whole competition.
“When you hear a great record on the radio for the first time, and it could be a number one hit all over the world, you don’t know at first what the singer looks like or what their personality is.”
And Lester also thinks that even if Paul doesn’t win The X Factor, he’ll still get a recording contract.
“He will get signed up,” he said.
“The world is open for him, he’s something quite special.
“I wish him all the best. It’s been brilliant knowing him and working with him.
“I hope he enjoys The X Factor for what it is. And I hope if he wins it, I’m his support act!”
*Follow Paul’s fortunes in The X Factor at @guardiandigital and @the_visitor and tweet your support for him using the hashtag #teampaul