Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Lismore singer, Taholo, has the X factor

LISMORE singer Taholo Renagi (pictured) has a personal story just as compelling as his vocal chords, making him a very worthy contender on Seven Network's talent show The X Factor.

The 19-year-old will appear on the show next month, and can be seen and heard in the trailers on television and online.

The opportunity has already seen him rub shoulders with performers like Guy Sebastian, Chris Isaak and James Blunt.

But while it has a huge step up for his career, giving him unparalleled exposure to the Australian public, he has kept his feet firmly on the ground.

"I don't want people idolising me, I want people to feel comfortable with me," he said.

"I really want to be a positive role model in the community.

"I think artists these days where they go wrong is they start to live for themselves too much.

"It's cool to live for yourself, but when does it end? Is it all about impressing the world and rewarding yourself with trophies?"

His attitude might have to do with his upbringing, marked by both uncertainty and opportunity in equal measure.

His family came from Papua New Guinea when he was seven years old. His dad had a scholarship visa, studying at Southern Cross University.

Tragically, the family was forced to return home after Taholo's father died during his final year of studies.

His mother realised Australia offered far better opportunities for her kids and fought to get the family back to Lismore.

"She worked hard with the help of the church in Lismore and we got back to Australia in 2006," Taholo said.

"After that my sister and I never really took an opportunity for granted."

It wasn't until Year 9 that he started experimenting with music.

"One day a teacher walked in and said 'you've got some sort of voice, maybe you should do something about it'," he recalled.

"I didn't want to stand out, but I didn't want to just go through the motions, so I decided to be a part of the shows the school was putting on."

From there he was chosen to perform solo in the high-profile New South Wales Schools Spectacular in 2014 and 2015.

After leaving school he joined 1:16 Hiphop, a music group tackling youth drug and alcohol issues.

"I've been brought up in a gospel background, so believe my duty is to serve others," he said.

"I want to use my music to influence the younger generation. I want to write music that shows you're fine the way you are.

"If you really want to rebel do the opposite - don't take drugs, don't drink alcohol.

"You don't have to be the life of the party, just be life."

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