Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Mixed emotions as three of four Northern Ireland hopefuls prove to be a knockout with Voice judges

CJ Edwards, Leah McFall
CJ Edwards, Leah McFall

Three young singers have told of their delight after edging a step closer to the live shows of BBC1 talent show The Voice.

Andrea Begley (26), Leah McFall (23), and Conor Scott (18) all survived their head-to-heads in the weekend's Battle Rounds.

But while there was ecstasy for them, there was agony for Newry operatic singer Carla Maney.

The 47-year-old, who performs with her Essex-born friend Barbara Kelly (55), lost out in the Battle Round to Leanne Jarvis.

Carla, who along with Barbara performed Mariah Carey's Hero, said that she was disappointed that her time had ended but that she had no regrets about entering.

However, she said she did feel their mentor will.i.am played it too 'safe' with their song choice and that they would have liked to experiment with another genre.

First to make it through to the third stage – the knockouts – was Pomeroy's Andrea Begley. The niece of country star Philomena Begley has 10% vision and faced Alice Barlow in the sing-off on Saturday, performing Birdie's track People Help The People. Mentor Danny O'Donoghue, who was joined by pop-star Dido on the show, chose Andrea to go through.

She said: "We only had a few hours to get the tune and words into my head and for me, there was the added pressure because I can't read off the sheet. But I loved the song once I had it in my head."

London-based fashion student Leah McFall, who comes from Belfast, described her Battle Round last night as 'weird'. "It's not something I aspire to vocally," she said. "I don't write songs to better other people. I felt that I couldn't really 'battle' with someone else, though I knew I had to, to make it through."

Leah took on CJ Edwards with the Michael Jackson hit The Way You Make Me Feel. Her vocals won over her mentor will.i.am, who opted to send CJ home.

"I was really shocked," Leah said. "I really thought will.i.am would put CJ through."

Leah said her mentor will.i.am is as quirky off-screen as on.

"What you see with him is what you get," she said. "He's so wacky and speaks in metaphors but once he gets going, you realise he's actually a genius."

St Malachy's pupil Conor Scott, from north Belfast, was up against duo Smith and Jones in his round, performing Some Nights by Fun.

The teenager, who starts his A-Levels today, found it intimidating singing against a couple.

"I'd never really sung before with anyone else and they had the strength of their harmonies and each other to rely on," he said.

"But I was determined to stay in the competition, so just kept focused on the song."

Carla was philosophical about will.i.am's decision to send her home, along with Barbara.

"We tried our very best but I feel the song choice was too safe and we should have been allowed to be a bit more adventurous.

"Of course we're disappointed. But we always knew it was a huge gamble. In saying that, we've no regrets about going on. My only regret is that it didn't last longer."

what now?

Andrea Begley, Conor Scott and Leah McFall were among four contestants from Northern Ireland to make it to the battle round of The Voice UK. Viewers of the BBC show saw them win their respective vocal battle with another contestant to be through to the knockout stage. They will now have to perform a 'killer song' and impress coaches in the next stage if they are to be selected for the final 12 going into the live shows.

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