Keith Semple is Happy to reach the knockout stages of The Voice USA
Pharrell Williams has given his seal of approval to Northern Irish musician Keith Semple, who has battled through to the knockout stage of The Voice USA.
The 'Happy' superstar advised Keith to record a music album and compared him to Irish arena-fillers U2 and The Script.
Larne-born musician Keith is emerging as the dark horse of the NBC talent contest, triumphing against American opponent Manny Cabo in the battle round as the pair put in a stunning performance of The Who classic Baba O'Reilly. Both were in Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's team.
"Those reaching notes, every time I thought he's not going to do them, you did," Pharrell told Keith, whose wife and two-year-old daughter were in the audience.
"You went above and beyond expectations and you could make an album right now and you would just have that Irish thing like U2 and The Script."
Gwen Stefani, who also backed Keith to win the face-off, said: "Keith, there were moments when my breath was taken away - it was like you were let out of a cage, you need to make a record, you are such a natural star."
Judge Adam Levine said both had put in exceptional performances, but chose Keith to go through to the next round.
Keith admitted the choice of Baba O'Reilly gave him "a little bit of an unfair advantage over Manny, because I have sung it maybe a thousand times. I have sung that song inside one of the medleys that I do with my band."
The musician is best known to UK audiences as a former member of boy band One True Voice and his appearances in Popstars: The Rivals and American Idol. He moved to Chicago seven years ago and now performs with the group Semple.
The former Larne Grammar School student has said: "I've never not been in a band. I don't know what it feels like to not be in a band. I started my first band AARK when I was 14 or 15.
"I would say though that today, I'm in the best band I've ever been in. The guys are just not only great players, but I genuinely love them as brothers. And it's a very weird feeling to know that you don't know how all this is going to unfold, but they're behind me 100%.
"And of course, if I can and things do well, I would like them to be able to be a part of what happens after. We've all discussed it, and we hope that that's the way it's going to work out."
He recently told BuddyTV that he was surprised to find himself a "nervous wreck" on his Voice debut, given his 17 years in the business - but saw it as a positive.
"That was a really cool feeling to be humbled by that, just the experience, what it's like to be genuinely nervous to the point where you don't even know [if] you can do it.
"That's not something that somebody in their 30s actually experiences any more. That was the one thing for me that was very surprising."
Keith has said he is still in touch with his roots in Larne and tries to make it home every year.
"Being so busy with regular shows it can be very difficult, of course, but I try my best. I always look forward to seeing my grannies, playing some tennis with friends at Larne Tennis Club and just catching up with old friends."