Carla Maney puts vocal problems in past as she finds her voice
A Newry woman who was forced to give up singing for several years after suffering a 'vocal breakdown' is a step closer to stardom after going down a storm on The Voice.
Carla Maney (47) brought a touch of opera to the BBC One talent show when she performed on Saturday night with her Essex-born friend Barbara Kelly (55).
The classical duo stunned the judges with their pitch-perfect rendition of The Flower Duet from French opera Lakme.
They impressed all four, prompting each of them to spin their chairs as an expression of interest in mentoring the singers.
But despite being a huge fan of Welsh singer Tom Jones, the pair chose Black Eyed Peas star Will.I.Am as their mentor.
Speaking after the show, Carla, who now lives in Cardiff, said they opted for the US producer because he had been the first to push the button and turn his seat around during their audition.
Carla and Barbara won high praise from all four coaches, with Will.I.Am pressing his button on the first note.
The reaction to their performance was all the sweeter for Carla, who was struck down by viral laryngitis during her late 20s, losing her voice as a result. When she started to improve she tried singing again, but her voice hadn't fully recovered, setting her back even further.
Carla said it was a "devastating" blow.
"Basically, what I had was a vocal breakdown," she said. "The recovery process began about 10 years ago. It was a long road. I saw a lot of different people to try and get it back to what it had been before. The first few years were spent trying to find people to help, then it was down to myself."
Carla met Barbara in 2003 when both were touring the US with Madame Butterfly. She is the fourth contestant from Northern Ireland to make it through to the next round of The Voice.