HIS world has been turned upside down in a matter of weeks . But Port Talbot’s Leondre Devries is staying true to himself and his anti-bullying message. GILL ROBERTS meets up with the confident youngster ahead of tonight’s Britain’s Got Talent grand final.
WORDS just can’t explain how Leondre Devries feels.
Just a few weeks ago, he was an everyday 13-year-old, who had a passion for rap music.
Now, following his appearance on television’s Britain’s Got Talent, he has been spectacularly thrown into the spotlight.
It has, to say the least, all been just a bit of a whirlwind.
“It is amazing,” says Leondre, one half of Bars and Melody and a pupil at Port Talbot’s Glan Afan Comprehensive.
“I could never have imagined this happening to me.’’
But it has.
The Bars and Melody Twitter account has more than 133,000 followers and their Britain’s Got Talent audition has been watched than more than 30 million people on YouTube.
Their inspirational anti-bulling song — with Leondre rapping and Charlie Lenehan, aged 15, singing — impressed judge Simon Cowell so much, he sent the duo straight through to the live shows by pressing his golden buzzer.
And they are the hot favourites to take the top prise in tonight’s show.
“No emotion can describe it,” says Leondre, who first began rapping at the age of eight.
“I just hugged Charlie when we had the golden buzzer. I am so thankful.
“It has changed my life in just a couple of weeks.”
Is he ever nervous?
Well, sometimes, he admits. Understandably so when you take to the stage in front of the likes of SimonCowell and co perhaps!
“Me and Charlie just thought ‘go for it’,” he tells me when we meet up at The Grand Hotel in Port Talbot.
“We did not know what to expect.
“I was biting my nails. We stood out onto the stage and I froze and looked at everyone.
“It was the biggest crowd I had ever performed to. But it felt amazing. And the judges were all lovely.
“David Walliams is the funniest. He is so sharp.
“Alesha is beautiful and a great rapper.
“Amanda is so nice. Everything she says is so sweet.”
While he credits Simon Cowell for being “real”.
“He tells you how it is,” says Leondre, who lives in Fairfield in Port Talbot and has three older brothers and a sister.
Before the semi-final, in which they won the public vote, the duo were flown over to America to appear on the top-rated Ellen DeGeneres chat show.
“It was just amazing,” he smiles.
“She just flew us over there and put us up in the best hotel.
“I was in shock. Ellen was such a lovely lady. Everyone behind the scenes were lovely. They were really welcoming.
“People have tweeted us from Canada, America, Australia and Norway. It is nuts.”
But the most important thing about his fame, is that he is able to deliver an important message through music. It is what he is most proud about.
Since he first appeared on the ITV talent show, he has been open about being bullied — and in doing so has been inspirational to others.
“Music was a way to get me away from it.
“People have been saying on social media that they have been standing up to the bullies, and a lot of the bullies have been saying sorry.
“It is just the best feeling in the world. Everything else comes as a bonus.
“We just want to get the message across, and that is what’s important.
“It is a worldwide thing. Everyone can relate.”
When I chat to him, the final is still a few days away, and excitement is building for the spectacular show. But his enjoyment of life and the prospect of what is to come this evening is almost tangible.
“It is going to be amazing, that is all I’m going to say,” says Leondre with a big grin.
“But I am going to be nervous. As soon as I go on stage I will have butterflies.
“It feels great to be representing my town. I will try to make everybody proud.”
Last year Port Talbot was represented by young dancers Pre-Skool and the year before dance group Nu Sxool made it to the final. And it was in 2007 when opera singer Paul Potts, who hails from the town, won the first ever Britain’s Got Talent.
“I remember watching the final with Paul Potts,” says Leondre. “I was seven.
“It feels great to be in the same place as he was.
“I want to have a musical career as well.
“I want to tour the world with Charlie, that would be amazing.
“Me and Charlie bonded since day one. It has been an instant connection and people can see that on stage.
“It is nice to have that.”
One last message from Leondre?
As well as wanting to thank his fans, known as ‘bambinos’, and urging everyone to vote, he has one more piece of advice — and its a good one too.
“Keep your head up and follow your dreams,” he says.
“It’s what really matters.’’
*The final will kick off at 7pm tonight.
See Bars and Melody's first audition here:
Video of when Bars and Melody appeared on The Ellen Show