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How Ed Sheeran inspired me to shrug off school bullies and launch my music career aged just 13

PUBLISHED: 16:48 30 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 30 September 2018

Roma Nicholson performs at the NEC Birmingham Open Mic Final Picture: JON TURNER

Roma Nicholson performs at the NEC Birmingham Open Mic Final Picture: JON TURNER

Archant

To many people, she has a dream life - forging her own career as an amazing singing sensation aged just 13.

Roma Nicholson who is previewing her new album at Sailmakers Acoustic Stage event this weekend Picture: CHRIS SILVESTER
Roma Nicholson who is previewing her new album at Sailmakers Acoustic Stage event this weekend Picture: CHRIS SILVESTER

To many people, she has a dream life - forging her own career as an amazing singing sensation aged just 13.

But behind the scenes, Roma Manteiga-Nicholson has an even more inspirational story to tell - how she was inspired by Suffolk’s own Ed Sheeran to shrug off school bullies to launch her bid for singing stardom.

Even though she is not old enough to vote, drive or get married, the youngster - simply known as Roma - began writing music when she was only nine years old.

Her talent was clear for all to see and soon she was performing in the West End, taking on the role of young Fiona in Shrek the musical.

While many people her age are dreaming of different careers, she has now gone on the record her own album, Teen Spirit, which launches this month, as well as perform an average of 10 gigs a month.

Rather than seek stardom for its own sake, she has decided to give the money she makes from album sales and her music career to charity - already raising more than £8,000.

But despite her talent, she like many has had to deal with school bullies determined to knock her down.

Her response was to look for inspiration close to home - in the shape of Framlingham superstar Ed Sheeran.

And she has even named her new record Stronger in defiance of those who tried to break her spirit.

Of Mr Sheeran, Roma said: “He was bullied and so was I.

“He proved them all wrong stood up and just brushed them off.

“That’s what I’ve tried to do a lot with my new record.

“I have a song called Stronger and it’s all about just saying ‘whatever’ to those kinds of people and shrugging them off.”

Roma said she would love to meet and perform with Mr Sheeran.

“Just to talk to him would be a success for me but of course I would love to perform with him,” she said.

“His work is based around his experiences in life which is what I like to do.

“It’s inspiring. I listen to his music and take notes, it has really helped.”

Of her decision to give all her profits to charity, Roma said: “I love the sound of money hitting the donation tin when I’m performing, because I know that people are getting helped.

“I just love performing. If I sing and I bring a smile to someone’s face that gives me a warm feeling.

“I’m just so glad that I started doing this at my age.

“It doesn’t matter where I go in the future, I did something now that helped.

“That’s my main dream: for people to be helped. I don’t think I could ask for anything more.”

Roma has also given people an insight into her creativity and how she comes up with the ideas for her songs.

She said: “I begin by getting an idea in my head. I get some lyrics in my head I’m good at putting them with a tune just off the cuff.

“I’ll come home talk to my dad about it and we will work on it together in the studio with the piano.”

Roma’s mother, Rosa Manteiga, and father, Darren Nicholson, accompany her to each show, help her work on her music at their home studio and organise her public relations.

Ms Manteiga said: “We are so proud as you an probably expect.

“The fact that Roma does this all for charity, that is her unique selling point.”

Father Darren Nicholson added: “It’s amazing to see into her mind.

“She has such amazing ideas, she will literally come home from school with a recording on her phone and get it out on the piano.

“We help her a little with the melody but it’s all her own work.”

Roma’s album, Teen Spirit, will be out on October 28,

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