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The Voice Kid's Paloma Faith picks Derry schoolboy Dara McNicholl as first semi-finalist

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Dara McNicholl

Dara McNicholl

ITV

Paloma shows her delight

Paloma shows her delight

ITV

Dara McNicholl

A CHART-topping superstar showed that she's got 'Faith' in a young local singer on a Saturday night prime-time telly talent competition.

For Paloma Faith picked Co Londonderry schoolboy singing sensation Dara McNicholl as the first semi-finalist on her team on last night's episode of The Voice Kids.

The 12-year old from Moneyneany, near Draperstown, was pitted against fellow Paloma team-mates Heidi - daughter of Atomic Kitten star Kerry Katona - and 10-year-old Tipperary yodeller, Rachel.

The talented trio was tasked with performing Latin music singing star Shakira's uptempo dance track, Whenever, Wherever in the Battles round of The Voice Kids. When the St Colm's High School, Draperstown, pupil first appeared at the show's Blind Auditions last month, it was a very different musical style he excelled at, singing the classic Whitney Houston power ballad, I Have Nothing.

But within seconds of his audition, he had Danny Jones and will.i.am spinning their chairs around in a bid to woo him onto their teams, with Paloma Faith and Pixie Lott soon following suit.

Before last night's Battles round, Dara admitted: "I am feeling a bit nervous because I would never, in a million years, pick that song."

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Paloma shows her delight

Paloma shows her delight

ITV

Paloma shows her delight

And Brit Award-winning coach Paloma admitted that the uptempo Latin-flavoured hit song was outside Dara and his team-mates' comfort zones.

Fellow Battles round competitor, Heidi added of Dara: "He's really nice because he does look after me and Rachel."

After having praised Dara for his "R'n'B soul" styled voice, Paloma chose Dara, saying: "Dara, you have a very special voice that is bigger than you. All three pulled it out of the bag. But his voice is off the chart." Dara only began singing three years ago and hid his vocal talents from mum Donna and dad Chris until a recent school musical production of Oliver.

Both Danny and Pixie agreed with Faith's choice.

The Ballinascreen GAC Under-14 hurler is only the second contestant from these parts to progress into The Voice Kids semi-final.

Loughinisland teenager, Conor Marcus made it into the penultimate round of the top-rated Saturday night ITV series last year.

n Dara will fly the flag for Northern Ireland in The Voice Kids semi-final on ITV from 7.25pm this Saturday.

n The show's final winner will receive a £30,000 bursary towards their musical education and a VIP family trip to Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida.

Belfast Telegraph