East End singer aiming for No 1 after landing �1million deal with Women’s Institute

AN EAST End singer who landed a million-pound record deal with a group formed by the Women’s Institute is hoping to set the charts alight.

Gemma Woznicki never imagined she would be competing with the likes of Take That and Cheryl Cole for a top selling single when she joined the long-running establishment’s East End branch almost three years ago.

But after fighting off stiff competition from 2,000 fellow members across the country, she landed a place in the organisation’s new pop group The Harmonies.

The band signed up with Universal and are releasing their debut single Jerusalem on December 12.

Ms Woznicki, of Bow Common Lane, said: “Forming the group was about showing younger people that the W.I can appeal to them too. It’s been a wonderful experience.

“The album is pretty easy listening and we all had an input.”

In the last few months, The Harmonies have been on a whirlwind drive to promote their album Voices of the W.I.

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Appearances on This Morning, The One Show, ITN news, BBC Radio 4, and an upcoming stint on the Alan Titchmarsh show have been part of the aim to showcase the work of the institute – and of course the group’s talents.

Formed in 1915, the W.I was originally set up to give women in rural communities a voice and help them get involved in food production during the war.

There are now 205,000 members across the UK.

Niki Stevens, presidents of the East End W.I, said: “We’ve got about 60 members and it’s growing every year. Some women like to campaign, others like it because it’s nice to spend time with women different to themselves. It’s a supportive, comfortable environment.”

Images of women holding jam tasting sessions, swapping needlework techniques and organising fetes may prevail but the group has never been confined to home baking.

It currently campaigns on issues including food labelling, honeybee protection, violence against women and climate change.

Ms Woznicki, 26, said: “I joined because my mum and I were looking for something to do together. In terms of an organisation, it’s a really nice to get engaged in topics that matter.”

Jerusalem will be available to download on iTunes on December 12.