Belfast Telegraph

Why I'll be voting for our Janet

By Gail Walker

I said it here some weeks ago when Janet Devlin first burst onto the X Factor.

This girl is a star. She was that in the making from the moment she started to sing Elton John's Your Song on the audition. Her version of I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - a stomping rock ballad by Aerosmith, no less - which she performed as her Judges' House piece broadcast at the weekend just confirmed her status as favourite to win the show.

Of course, many's a thing can go wrong in the X Factor hot house and who's to know how the public will vote in the weeks to come? We've all been here before, with talented individuals seeming to slip away from the affection of the viewers or just not able to rack up enough partisans to vote for them as the contestants dwindle in numbers.

But it's already clear that Janet grips the whole audience when she sings - something happens then which seems very special indeed. As Gary Barlow said - and what would he know about a good performance? - "When she sings it's like I've never heard the song before."

It's not just about hitting high notes or being loud or brash or a hip-swinging entertainer - it's about her voice and what it can do even to a familiar song. She has a quite remarkable gift.

Whatever the final outcome, all of us in Northern Ireland can look forward to the next few months, because we are going to have many occasions to feel very, very proud indeed that someone so slight and so modest and so young and so much part of her home county of Tyrone can move so many in Britain and elsewhere to a standing ovation.

Move over Rory and Darren and Graeme. There's another hero on the way.

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