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Andrea Begley on her special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The 27 year-old singer-songwriter from Tyrone shot to fame last year after winning hit BBC show The Voice. She is currently touring her new album, The Message, around Northern Ireland.

My best friend, Rosie

Rosie Dempsey and I met about 10 years ago when I started volunteering for the Royal National Institute for the Blind and she was working there at the same time.

It was a really good thing for me to do - I went to a mainstream school so I hadn't really met anyone else with a visual impairment. I got to meet young people who had the same issues as I did.

Rosie is visually impaired and I've been registered blind since I was three so we both know what it's like.

We both have stories to share about interesting taxi rides where we have to explain to the drivers that we really can't see where we're going, it's not just a case of not being able to read the numbers on the doors of a street.

There are a lot of reasons that Rosie and I get on together; we both love music and we have the same sense of humour.

She now works as the manager of children's services for the RNIB in Northern Ireland.

My parents, Kieran and Ann

My parents still live in Pomeroy in Co Tyrone. Mum works as a nurse and my dad owns a grocery shop. I also have two younger sisters, Hannah and Lucy. We are a very close family.

My parents have always been very supportive of my music but I think they always thought I would just pursue it as a hobby - particularly as I went to university and then got a job as a civil servant. I don't think they were expecting me to give up that career path.

My family are my biggest supporters and my harshest critics at the same time. The joke has always been that I have no fear of going in front of any kind of judging panel because of my family's "constructive criticism".

The only time anyone in the family really gives off to me is when I'm running round the house singing - I do it from the moment I get up so I do get told off for that every now and again, particularly by my sisters. Sometimes you just don't realise that you're doing it, though!

Person I go to for advice

My sister Hannah is only a couple of years younger than me so we're very close. She's just moved to London for a job now so I don't get to see her that much. We're on the same wavelength so I use her as a sounding board to bounce ideas off.

My mentor, Danny

It would be difficult to look beyond the wonderful frontman from The Script, Danny O'Donoghue.

He was my mentor on The Voice and we've kept in touch since by email.

He helped me record the title track of my first album.

Danny's approach is very much to keep moving forward and carve a career for yourself. He's given me great ideas on my career direction and how to keep at it.

My celebrity crush, Angel

He's a character from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and I used to drool over him as a youth.

He was just so lovely and had the whole brooding vampire thing.

He also had a conscience so you couldn't not fall for him.

Fantasy dinner party

I love Ed Sheeran's music and think he's brilliant so I'd like to sit and have a proper chinwag with him.

Next would be Kevin Bishop the comedian because he's absolutely hilarious and would bring a few laughs to the table.

Then I'd like someone local, such as Liam Neeson, as he's a great actor, too. Finally, to include a lady, I would ask Beyonce. I got to meet her years ago when she was in Belfast with Destiny's Child and she was really nice. I might pick up a few singing tips from her this time, too!

  • Andrea will be performing at the Burnavon Centre, Cookstown, tonight and at the Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady, tomorrow. For further information, visit www.andreabegley.com

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