Talented Leah through to battle stage in RTE show

Leah McConnell. INCT 07-369-PR
Leah McConnell. INCT 07-369-PR

A Carrick woman has made it through to the battle phase of RTE show The Voice Of Ireland after winning praise from the judges.

Leah McConnell appeared on the show on Sunday evening during the final round of blind auditions.

The 28-year-old had a tense start to her rendition of Lana Del Ray’s Summertime Sadness when the judges delayed in turning their chairs.

However, the performance ended with coaches Jamelia and Kian Egan going head-to-head to win Leah over to their respective teams.

With former Westlife star Kian having already reached his team quota, Leah opted for Jamelia as her coach after the Rn’B artist praised her “raw talent”.

Speaking to the Times this week, Leah said: “The blind auditions were recorded back in November in The Helix in Dublin, so it’s been really hard to keep it to myself until it was shown on the TV!

“It was awful, really nerve wracking having to perform for the judges. During the sound checks it wasn’t so bad as you didn’t have famous people sitting in front of you; it was definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”

A former pupil of Oakfield Primary and Downshire School, Leah was accompanied at the auditions by her parents, Dawn and Roy, boyfriend Darren, and friend Patrick.

“I was a bit annoyed after I sang Summertime Sadness because I felt it wasn’t the best version of the song I’ve ever done, but when I heard it back on the TV on Sunday it sounded better than I first thought,” she said.

“Jamelia said she didn’t think my performance was flawless and I appreciated her being honest; I’ve done some coaching with her so I’m really delighted to be on her team.”

A training and development officer with the Henderson Group, Leah has been honing her vocal talents for a number of years at weddings and various local venues, including monthly gigs at Holywood pub The Dirty Duck.

She will now go forward to the battle stage of the TV show, which is the Irish edition of the international TV franchise The Voice.

The programme, which pulls in an average of 650,000 viewers per week, airs on Sunday evenings on RTE One.

The show’s format sees talents selected in blind auditions, where coaches hear but cannot see the auditionee.

The coaches, themselves performing artists, then train the talents in their group and occasionally perform with them. Fellow judges this year include Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin of The Blizzards and former Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan, who lauded Leah’s audition as “beautiful”.

Four battle auditions remain in the current series, followed by seven live shows which will see the remaining contestants take to the stage in Dublin for a chance to win a recording contract with Universal.

More information on Leah can be found on her Twitter page @McconnellLeah.