It’s hard to believe that it’s nine years since TV audiences saw Ribble Valley singer Ella Shaw wow the judges on Britain’s Got Talent, eventually reaching the semi-final of the top talent show.

Now 27, she is the driving force behind Ella Shaw’s Academy of Arts which from its base at the Grand in Clitheroe coaches around 200 youngsters every week.

Ella Shawv (Picture: Ella Shaw)

Next month the academy is to stage three public performances of the musical Fame! Junior.

“Honestly, I feel like I’ve lived three lives I’ve done so much in such a short space of time,” said Ella. “I started the academy when I was 21 really as something on the side to being a singer. Now the singing career is secondary to the academy which is incredible.

“When I started teaching singing I saw how influential that could be on someone’s life, something just clicked and it felt like I’d been called to do this.”

From humble beginnings - “We had one class on a Saturday morning with possibly 10 students” - the academy has grown to such a stage that there is a permanent waiting list for places and expansion is on the cards.

Ella and her team of three offer singing coaching to 40 students on a one-to-one basis; run a musical production class on a Tuesday night for around 30 and on Saturdays have performing arts classes for around 100.

“I always refer to them as ‘my kids’,” said Ella. “Someone said ‘I didn’t know you have children’. I just said ‘yes, about 200 of them’.

“But the growth has been amazing. From the outset we tried to set ourselves apart. I wanted to create a place where everyone is celebrated, there is no angel child getting the main part every time, everyone has the chance to shine.”

Last year Ella and her team put on a full blown musical for the first time - Sister Act.

Sister Act performed by Ella Shaw Academy of Arts, 2023 (Picture: Ella Shaw)

“The kids were amazing,” she said. “We got standing ovations for all three shows and someone even said it was as good as the West End.

“We wanted to create something to keep the older students engaged. A number of them are at college studying performing arts and the standard they achieved was incredible.

“They certainly set a very high standard for the show this year, Fame! Junior. It was so emotional to watch them. When they stepped on to the stage it was like they had become completely different children.”

As well as the major musical show, Ella is organising a vocal showcase, Voice of the Future, in November again at the Grand. The academy also has a series of showcases for parents during the year.

“What they are doing here now will stay with them for the rest of their lives” said Ella. “When you talk to parents about how their children feel after being to a class and the difference they see in them, you can’t put a value on that.”

Looking back to her time on Britain’s Got Talent does Ella have any regrets about going on the show?

“Not necessarily regrets, no,” she said. “But I wish I was who I am now. I would do a lot of things differently. But the show gave me a step up in my career and I’d never regret doing it.

“Nobody prepares you for what happens after being on a show like BGT but then nothing prepares you for being an adult either,” she laughed.

“But I did some amazing things, I got to sing at Manchester Arena in front of 21,00 people.

“I’m now more of an entrepreneur than just a singer with a dream. I think those two would have worked well together.”

Although the academy has taken over much of her life, Ella is still performing regularly. Out of the blue she was invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall for the 50th anniversary of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. She is also the featured vocalist on the album which topped the classical music charts.

Ella Shaw performing at the Royal Albert Hall (Picture: Ella Shaw)

“Sometimes my life is just so random,” she laughed. “Singing at the Royal Albert Hall was probably the biggest moment of my life then I came back to teach the kids.

“Coming off TV there was lot of pressure to support myself financially and chase a dream and I ended up losing my love for singing,” she said.

“That was really hard for me and for a while I was a bit lost. But I found my feet and everything we have achieved with the academy is my pride and joy.

“I feel like I can sing for fun now, singing just found me again.”

She also revealed that she has written a song for the first time in 10 years.

“I’m a bit nervous about it,” she said. “I’m not sure how the world will react it’s been so long but I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

“I’m a massive believer in chasing your dreams. If it all goes wrong, what’s the worst that can happen? You’re just back to where you were.

“I’m only turning 28 this year so I feel like I’m only just getting started but I’ve done so much already.”

Fame! Junior is at Clitheroe Grand on Friday, June 28 and two performances on Saturday, June 29. Details from