A GIFTED Widnes songwriter was hailed ‘a rising star’ by a top BBC DJ when she launched her debut album, Dust & Coal, on Saturday.

Rapturous applause welcomed 24-year-old Natalie McCool at The Picket in Liverpool.

Compere BBC 6 Music presenter Chris Hawkins, introduced her, saying: “I think Natalie is fantastic. She is a rising star. I’ve played her music and so has Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2.

“She is definitely on the way up.”

Self-taught guitarist Natalie, from Hough Green writes all her own songs.

She was bursting with passion and energy as she performed with her six piece band.

Afterwards, she said: “It’s fantastic to have such great support from Chris. I should have dedicated a song to him.

“There was a really good vibe, a lovely atmosphere. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be.”

Former pupil of Peter & Paul Catholic College, Natalie won the national Yamaha Make It Break It songwriting competition in 2007. It was judged by music industry professionals including Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Grammy Award winning music producer Steve Levine and Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

She shared a masterclass songwriting session with Sir Paul McCartney whilst she was studying at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

She supported Joan Armatrading in Manchester and sang at the Grand National.

She describes her music as ‘alternative Indie but accessible.”

As she embarks on a UK tour, she received more exciting news.

Natalie explains: “Nile Rodgers who produced Michael Jackson and Madonna tweeted me and asked me to send him some of my music. It’s amazing.”

She will be performing at The Leaf, Liverpool, at 8.15pm, on May 2 and at the Castle Hotel, Manchester, at 9pm on May 3.

To download her debut album, visit nataliemccool.co.uk