Ulster hopefuls turn chairs on The Voice

Rachael O'Connor performs
Rachael O'Connor performs

Two Ulster singers have rocketed through to the next stage of televised singing competition The Voice, which aired on Saturday night.

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

Jai McConnell on stage.

Jai McConnell on stage.

Teenager Rachael, who attends Limavady Grammar School and is from Drumsurn near Limavady, sang Clown by Emeli Sandé.

Following her success, she was pictured celebrating backstage with her family.

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

The young mother said her son has been her inspiration.

“When Kingston gets older I want him to realise that whatever challenges come up, he can do anything he wants,” she said.

“I hope I make him proud.”

Coaches will.i.am and Ricky Wilson both turned their chairs almost as soon as Jai began singing, and Sir Tom Jones and Kylie Minogue turned soon afterwards.

Later 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”.

Afterwards, Rachael said: “It’s like a dream, it doesn’t seem real.”

The girls’ chosen mentor, Kylie Minogue, has recently joined The Voice coaching panel.

She has global record sales of more than 68 million and has completed more than 10 world tours, among other achievements.

Last year, another two female Ulster singers battled it out on the BBC One show – Leah McFall from Belfast and Andrea Begley from Pomeroy.

The second series of the hit programme was won by the Co Tyrone singer.

After The Voice, partially sighted Andrea – niece of country and western star Philomena Begley – was signed to Capitol Records.

Her winning single My Immortal entered the UK Singles Chart at number 75 that week.

The single then went on to peak at number 30, and at number 70 on the Irish singles chart.