If you’d watched the Brit Awards last week you no doubt you would have seen diminutive Welsh soulstress Duffy scoop a hat-trick of gongs – thoroughly deserved ones too.

More important, however, is what these awards represent – the revival and legitimisation of soul music in the mainstream.

It’s a revival Rickmansworth singer/songwriter Aleesha hopes to make the most of.

The former St Clement Danes girl has been forging a growing reputation online in recent years as a talented writer, composer and vocalist, churning out a pleasing fusion of hip hop, R&B laced soul music from her bedroom.

Just as well, then, that this undoubted talent may soon win some of the recognition I reckon it deserves.

Enter Live and Unsigned – the UK’s biggest and most significant talent contest outside the X-Factor.

Aleesha, studying commercial law in Bristol has just won through to the semi-finals, singing live to pip hundreds of other hopefuls to the post.

Next up – provided all goes well – are May’s finals in Portsmouth, co-judged by the Sex Pistols’ Malcolm McLaren. So what are her chances?

“Looking at the outlook for commercial lawyers at the moment I’d better do well,” quips the immediately likeable 20-year-old.

“But music has always been my main passion, ever since I started playing the violin at school. Then in my terrible teens I got into all sorts different genres of music.”

She’s not kidding either… “I loved old school, really grimy hip hop; I loved soul music, Frank Sinatra and even 50s jazz. My music is a fusion of all of these so, yes, it’s quite dark in places.”

Indeed, the limited selection of tracks I’ve heard are very impressive indeed; immersive, catchy compositions underpinned by a beautiful, haunting, powerful voice. Back to Aleesha… “When people meet me they can’t believe it’s my voice. But that’s what I want to show with my music; that even as a short little Indian girl* I can be passionate, I can be angry and I can make great music.”

And the competition?

“Music is everything to me so I’m taking this competition really seriously. I entered back in 2007 but got slaughtered by the judges. I tried to sing an Alicia Keys cover but was overcome with nerves.

"But I’ve taken a year out, studied at the London College of Music and I’m back more determined than ever before.”

Fore more details see myspace.com/aleeshasoul.

*Oh, and just in case you were interested Aleesha (surname Pandya) is 5 foot 2inches tall.

To find out how she gets on see SA in the coming months.