You made me The Voice and I'll not let you down, Andrea Begley tells fans
Singer's vow after surprise show win
Tyrone songbird Andrea Begley has vowed to make a success of her singing career as payback for the public's support which saw her crowned champion of The Voice 2013.
The 27-year-old civil servant from Pomeroy – mentored by The Script's front-man Danny O'Donoghue – beat bookmakers' favourite, Belfast girl Leah McFall, to clinch an exclusive record deal with Universal.
The two local singers stood hand in hand, nervously awaiting the result of Saturday night's public vote. When co-host Holly Willoughby declared Andrea the winner, she was visibly shocked, putting her hands over her mouth in disbelief.
But while the surprise outcome caused some controversy on Twitter, Andrea, who has only 10% vision due to childhood glaucoma, refused to let it spoil her moment of glory.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, the singer, whose voice has been described as 'angelic' and 'magical' and reduced Sir Tom Jones to tears, said she intended to make the most of her golden opportunity.
And the Tyrone woman said that while she understood the disappointment felt by Leah's supporters and her mentor Will.i.am, she had worked hard to win over the public and was not going to let them down.
"I'm still in a complete state of shock," she said. "It really hasn't hit home yet. It's just crazy. But I'm absolutely thrilled and am so grateful to everyone at home for the huge support I've received.
"In terms of the bookmakers, Leah was the favourite to win, and if I'm being honest, I thought she'd done it as well. From my own point of view, I just went out there and did exactly what I'd been doing all along, singing the songs I felt a connection with.
"Before the final began, the guys from The Script took me aside and told me they still get nervous before gigs. But they told me to just go out and enjoy it and block everything else out, so that's what I did.
"I totally understand that Leah's supporters were disappointed she didn't win, I really get that, because she has huge support. But it was the public who voted for me and I'm going to make a success of this to say thank you to everyone who picked up the phones.
"And Leah is going to be a huge star. Will is 150% behind her and wants to work with her. She is an amazing talent and a lovely person and will be very successful."
Andrea said she was "not surprised" at Will.i.am's claims that the result of the show was "so sad" and "unexplainable" – but said the fact is she was the public's choice.
Not long after the civil servant was announced as the winner, Twitter-loving coach Will.i.am tweeted: "You should feel the audiences vibration in the room tonight after the public's vote...its unexplainable...so sad...perplexed."
He quickly followed it with a second tweet: "Andrea is amazing...dontGETmeWRONG...but we know who has the incredible voice."
Andrea said she spoke to the superstar coach after the show, and he told her he would have given her the same enthusiastic backing if she was on his team.
Andrea has already put in a lot of preparation work for her debut album, which will feature material she has written herself as well as covers. And she said she was delighted that her mentor wanted to be involved.
"Danny has said he wants to help me with the album," she said. "He's advised me to get it out as quickly as possible, not a rushed job, but just to get it out there soon.
"I'll be having lots of meetings this week with Universal and management. It's all so exciting because I've never worked with anyone of this calibre before.
"I guess I will have to move to London now, so will have to have talks this week with my work as well to see what's the best plan. Starting a new job and moving home is scary enough, but when it's on this scale, it's ten-fold. But I'm determined to make the most of this and to prove to people that they were right to support me."
Andrea faces the pressure of trying to avoid the fate of last year's winner Leanne Mitchell, who flopped.
Her debut single did not reach the top 40, while her album recently missed out on the top 100.