Alter Ego’s teenage talent joined by Sneakbo at the Hackney Empire

Singer, Kali McLoughlin, 16, wins Alter Ego 2015.

Singer, Kali McLoughlin, 16, wins Alter Ego 2015. - Credit: Archant

Teenager Kali McLoughlin was crowned winner of Alter Ego 2015 after a breathtaking performance of Minnie Riperton’s 1974 hit Lovin’ You, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hackney Empire.

The 16-year old beat the other seven acts in the annual talent show compered by MTV presenter Kat B last Friday night.

The crowd went wild when rapper Sneakbo and comedy trio Mandem on the Wall put in appearances, with Sneakbo telling them, “We are not about post codes, music is love so no postcodes”.

Former contestant Jermain Jackman, who went on to win the BBC’s singing competition The Voice and a £100,000 record deal, came along to judge and treated the audience to a performance of his impressive vocals.

All eight acts had been polished since their audition in January with mentoring by professional artists at the theatre in Mare Street.

Winner Kali said: “It feels so good, I didn’t even expect it. The process was really fun, it got quite nerve-wracking towards the end, but it’s been a really fun experience from the start.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, said he is “blown away” every year by the talent on show.

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“Discover Young Hackney is designed to harness that talent and give young people the practical tools and information they need to get on the right career path, through a very exciting programme of events.”

Rapper Dee Riginal, 18, took second place, with 13-year old spoken word artists, Jamilah and Kyanne, and singer and guitarist Charla and Begum, both 14, coming joint third.

The rest of the talented bunch included street dance crew Ebonessence, dance group M.I.N.D. rapper, Nicki Knightz, 19 and singer Josh Tenor.

The winner was selected through a 50/50 combination of text votes from the audience and nominations by the judging panel, made up of industry professionals Ghetts, Bless Beats and Leroy FX from dance group Flawless, and the Empire’s Susie McKenna.

Alter Ego, is the launch event for Hackney Council’s youth arts and culture festival, Discover Young Hackney, which sees a jam-packed programme running throughout February.

Highlights include an opportunity to get involved with a performance of Young Sherlock at Shoreditch Town Hall and, Discover the arts in Hackney, a series of events in some of Hackney’s libraries.

The Arcola Theatre Takeover offers a chance to become a producer and Hackney Live will once again showcase young talent.

To find out about the full programme of festival events visit:,