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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Andrew Johnston: From Britain’s Got Talent choirboy to jujitsu black belt

With his steely expression and his precise, controlled movements, he looks every inch the martial arts black belt he has just become...

Andrew Johnston photo
Andrew Johnston

You could be forgiven for not recognising former Carlisle chorister Andrew Johnston, whose angelic voice mesmerised the nation three years ago as he sang on the Britain’s Got Talent TV show.

His rendition of Pie Jesu and his account of being bullied for his singing left the show’s tough-talking judge Simon Cowell close to tears.

That was more than three years ago when Andrew was a starstruck 13-year-old. Today, Andrew, now 17 and 6ft 3ins tall, has grown into a confident young man.

Part of that new-found confidence, he says, has stemmed from his dedication to the martial art of jujitsu.

As well as continuing his study of music and singing with the Royal Northern College of Music, Andrew has diligently practised the martial art for the last two years.

At the recent Hombu Dojo tournament in Carlisle, the teenager was awarded black belt status by Japanese grandmaster Yasumoto Soke.

“I always liked martial arts but at first there was nothing around in Carlisle I wanted to do,” said Andrew, from Stanwix, Carlisle.

“Then I started studying jujitsu with Andy McCormack at the Atlas Works in Denton Holme. I’ve worked hard at it.

“I’d recommend it to any young person: it helps to give you self-confidence and it helps in other ways.

“It’s especially helped me with my singing, and with performance,” he added. “Jujitsu is a very traditional martial art, which is not just about self-defence.

“It’s based on Samurai teachings and it’s about values such as respect as well as how to stand up for yourself.”

Andrew shot to fame in 2008 with his memorable appearances on TV, and after coming third in Britain’s Got Talent his album One Voice sold around 250,000 copies.

He plans to study music full-time at university in a couple of years, concentrating on a classical repertoire.

His singing talent is continuing to flourish. Just a few days before he was awarded his black belt, Andrew was awarded the Royal Society of Church Music’s highest award, the coveted gold medal.

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