Croydon van driver’s “gritty” voice has The X Factor

The X Factor panel loved Croydon's Ben Haenow Pic:

The X Factor panel loved Croydon’s Ben Haenow Pic:

A van driver from Croydon blew the judges away at his X Factor audition on Saturday night.

Ben Haenow, 29, impressed the ITV show’s panel with his performance of Bill Withers’ classic, Ain’t No Sunshine. The infamously harsh Simon Cowell was especially glowing in his praise.

“A little bit over the top,” said Cowell. “But it’s a great voice, loved it. Old school.”

Glamorous Cheryl Cole agreed: “I really like the tone of your voice and that real, genuine grit. It’s an authentic sound.”

Melanie B, ex-Spice Girl, further piled on the praise: “Your voice is absolute killer. I loved it.”

Cowell added: “I’m really surprised that someone with your talent actually hasn’t got a record deal. I really am.”

The judges put Haenow through to the next round unanimously, and he obviously made an equally strong impression on the public as he was trending on Twitter following Saturday’s show.

His success follows that of many contestants from EastLondonLines’ boroughs in last year’s X Factor, most notably Rough Copy, also from Croydon, who were kicked off the show just one round before the final.

Watch Haenow’s audition here.

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