Belfast's X Factor hopeful Jade Collins has revealed that she has never asked why her father is in prison because she fears the truth would hurt her too much.
The 17-year-old schoolgirl — who is just one step away from taking part in this year's live shows — said her father had been in and out of jail throughout her life but that she had never asked either of her parents why he had been in trouble with the law.
She said the time spent with her father was limited and that she wanted to use it to “get to know him better”, rather than quizzing him about his past.
Jade, who made it through to the judges' houses stage of the competition last weekend, wowed the four judges with her first audition — a powerful rendition of Beyonce's Sweet Dreams.
But the west Belfast teenager was seen breaking down backstage as she told how her father wasn't around for her or her siblings because he was in jail.
A tearful Jade said he had dipped “in and out” of their lives and that she wished he'd been with her to watch her audition.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Jade said: “My dad has been in and out of prison all my life but people never believe me when I tell them that I've never actually had that chat. I've never sat down and asked him what he's done.
“When I go and visit him, I only get an hour to see him. I want to talk to him about normal things, to get to know him better.
“I don't know why he is in there, we honestly never bring it up.
“I'm happy enough not knowing why he's in there. I don't want to think about it, it would only hurt me too much,” she added.
After impressing at the X Factor's boot camp, Jade was selected to travel to St Lucia in the West Indies with five other girls and their mentor Tulisa Contostavlos.
They were also joined by guest star Tinie Tempah.
Jade said: “This X Factor experience has been a dream come true. It's so overwhelming to get this far and what an amazing opportunity to go to St Lucia.”
“Tulisa is lovely, so down-to-earth and it was wonderful to meet Tinie Tempah. I'm a huge fan of his music.”
Next week viewers will find out if Jade makes it through to the live shows.
“It's been the best experience of my life. Whatever the outcome, I'm going to keep singing and following my dream,” she added.
“My dad's been watching the show in prison. He said he had a wee tear in his eye when I sang. But he's getting out soon, so he'll be able to see me perform.”
Jade Collins is a 17-year-old singer from west Belfast. After winning last year's local talent contest — The T Factor — her mum encouraged her to enter the 2012 X Factor. She impressed at the auditions and bootcamp and made it through to the judges' houses stage. The former St Genevieve's pupil moved to St Louise's last year to study her A-levels but wants to pursue a career in singing. She lives with her siblings and mum Mairead.