Northern Ireland

The Voice: Rachael O'Connor and Jai McConnell through to next stage

Rachael O'Connor,
Image caption Rachael O'Connor has been paired with Kylie Minogue

Two contestants from Northern Ireland have gone through to the next stage of singing competition The Voice, which aired on BBC One on Saturday night.

Rachael O'Connor, 16, and 24-year-old Jai McConnell, both selected Kylie Minogue as their mentor.

Rachael, who goes to Limavady Grammar School, and is from Drumsurn near Limavady, County Londonderry, sang Clown by Emeli Sandé.

Jai, a mother of one from Belfast, sang Never Forget You by the Noisettes.

All four judges turned round when Jai performed, while only held out when Rachael sang.

Jai said her three-year-old son Kingston was the main inspiration behind her singing aspirations.


She said: "I have always dreamed of pursuing a career in music but things in my life have challenged me.

Image copyright Guy Levy
Image caption Jai McConnell said her three-year-old son was her inspiration

"When Kingston gets older I want him to realise that whatever challenges come up, he can do anything he wants. I hope I make him proud."

Judges and Ricky Wilson both turned their chairs almost as soon as she began singing, and Sir Tom Jones and Kylie Minogue turned together soon afterwards.

Ricky Wilson told her: "You've obviously got something and it's magical and I can't wait to hear you sing again."

Sir Tom Jones said Rachael sounded "original", while Ricky Wilson said her "confidence on stage poured over the back of my chair like a tidal wave". said: "I'm a fool, I should have turned around."

Afterwards, Rachael said: "It's like a dream, it doesn't seem real."

Jonathon Burgess, a local playwright, worked with Rachael when she played the lead in the Millennium Forum Youth Theatre's musical production of Grease.

"She's a very talented girl, there's no doubt about that," said Mr Burgess.

"What is maybe more important though is the fact that she has a fantastic attitude. At that age that is the most important thing."

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