The Voice starlet Rachael O'Connor eases back into school life after shock exit
The Voice singer Rachael O'Connor has traded showbiz glamour for a school uniform and is back in the classroom after being voted off the TV talent show.
The army of supporters from across Northern Ireland and beyond who tuned in each Saturday night to see and listen to Kylie's protege were stunned when Rachael (17) was eliminated last week. The girl from the quiet village of Drumsurn in Co Londonderry is beginning to come to terms with her unexpected departure from the singing competition, but her experience has made her even more determined to make a career in the pop world
After a couple of days off to rest up from the hectic whirlwind that was her life as a contestant on The Voice, the aspiring popstar is back with her schoolmates at Limavady Grammar School, where she is already preparing for exams she hopes will gain her entry into a school of performing arts in London. Rachael was ensconced in the music block – where else – and told the Belfast Telegraph it is full steam ahead into the music industry for her.
"My plan before The Voice was to get my education and then try and get into a school for performing arts in London so it is very much back to Plan A, only I think I have a bit of an advantage now from being on the programme.
"Coming back to school has been fine. There is plenty of work for me to do and right now, it has to be done."
She said: "My day when I was on The Voice was very different from what I was used to and it was sad to leave it behind.
"It took me a few days to get my head around that I was back home.
"I loved it so much, even though I was in the studio rehearsing from about 8.30am until about nine or 10 at night.
"Sometimes Kylie would have been there, sometimes it was just the band.
"In between, there were costume fittings, interviews, hair and make-up or photo shoots and sometimes stage rehearsals.
"I was so excited by it all that when I came home I immediately missed it. It wasn't as fun coming home and waking up and not singing and performing but getting ready for school, but I was glad to be with my family and my friends."
Rachael is just weeks away from sitting her AS levels. Having to catch up with schoolwork is helping to shift her mind away from wondering what she could and would have been doing if she was still on The Voice.
While that particular door may be shut, she is still gearing up for a pop career.
She continued: "The week-and-a-half I spent in London with The Voice and Kylie has just made me even more convinced that this is what I want to do.
"Kylie, of course, was just incredible, I adore her.
"She was like a mammy to me. She looked out for me but she was also out for the craic."
Now, Rachael's back at school surrounded by friends who are glad to have her back in the classroom with them. Demi O'Hara studies music with Rachael.
She said: "I tried every week to get tickets to go to London but I couldn't get them so I watched on TV – it was really strange to see your friend on singing for millions."
Gemma Warnock, who has been friends with Rachael since they were both in their first years at school, said: "It was so surreal watching Rachael on TV. It was brilliant to watch and see her doing so well."
"My Twitter account has gone mad which is a bit hard to get used to.
"All these people are tweeting me and I just say to myself, why are you tweeting me – I am from Drumsurn. It is crazy but I am loving it."