Belfast Telegraph

The Voice's 'lucky' Rachael will reward Kylie's faith after scraping into Voice finals

BY MAUREEN COLEMAN

Schoolgirl Rachael O'Connor says she is out to prove that Kylie Minogue made the right decision to send her through to the live shows of The Voice UK.

The 17-year-old from Drumsurn, near Limavady, booked herself a place in next weekend's live shows after performing the Paloma Faith song New York.

But the teenager said she had been disappointed with her performance and felt guilty that four "amazing" singers had gone home. She said she now felt under pressure to prove that her star mentor was justified in putting her through.

"I do feel under pressure now going into the lives because my performance in the knockouts didn't go great," she said.

"Everyone sang so amazingly and I did feel guilty that I got through on a rubbish performance. I'm worried people will think 'she didn't deserve to go through'.

"There's more pressure on me because of that performance. I feel people will say that I wasn't the best singer, so why should I be in the live shows?

"I was so unhappy with my performance, that when the song was over I said to Jamie Johnson (Team Kylie) that I was going home. I couldn't believe it, then, when I heard my name being called to go through. I'm delighted, of course, but I feel I only got there by the skin of my teeth."

Rachael, who's been the bookies' favourite to win from the start of this series, said nerves had taken hold of her during the knock-out round of the competition. But she said Kylie had been on hand to give her good advice.

"Kylie told me that when she was 16 she suffered from nerves as well and was too afraid to move around when she was performing ," she said. "So my goal for the knockouts was to loosen up and not just stand there in one place.

"Next weekend it's the lives and while I'm nervous, I'm really excited too. I'm just going to go out there and do my best and show that Kylie was right when she said she saw potential in me."

Backing Rachael to win this year's Voice is Belfast singer Jai McConnell (left), who failed to get through to the live shows.

The 24-year-old, who impressed mentors with her performance of Scissor Sisters' Take Your Mama Out, left the competition on Saturday, with Femi Santiago, Leo Ihenacho and Jade Mayjean Peters.

The mum-of-one, who works as a salon receptionist, said that while she was disappointed that her Voice journey was over, she was thrilled to be reunited with her young son Kingston.

And she said she would be backing Rachael to win.

"Obviously it would have been amazing to go on but I'm relieved to be back with Kingston again, as mother's guilt had set in," she said.

"But I'm so grateful for the whole experience and to the people who encouraged me to do it. I never would have done it on my own. And if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't know how capable I am.

"I'll be cheering Rachael on now to win. When her name was called out I gave her a wee squeeze and told her to get out there and show them how it's done."

And Jai said she won't be giving up on her music.

"I'm trying to get back into the swing of things after The Voice," she said. "I've a few recordings here and there and I'm starting giging. I'll be performing at the Sunflower Festival this summer, which I'm really excited about.

"Taking part in The Voice has been amazing."

Joining Rachael for Team Kylie will be Johnson and Lee Glasson.

QUOTE

"Rachael has been an excellent role model and an inspiration to countless younger pupils. We have seen her talent blossom in many school performances as she goes from strength to strength. Her family has a well-established association with Limavady Grammar, as her two brothers and both her parents are former pupils."

Vice principal of Limavady Grammar, Kaye Henry

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