Imagine auditioning for a singing competition and not only getting four yeses from the judges but actually having them fight over the privilege of coaching you.
That’s what happened to 24-year-old Jai McConnell when she walked onto the stage of “The Voice UK” in 2014.
McConnell wasn’t sure what was about to happen when she went out for her blind audition. But she had one person on her mind: her 3-year-old son Kingston.
“I have always dreamed of pursuing a career in music,” said McConnell. “Things have come up in my life to challenge me. When Kingston gets older, I want him to realize that whatever challenges get in his way, he can do anything he wants. I hope I make him proud.”
McConnell took to the stage to sing Never Forget You by Noisettes.
Immediately, the judges perked up at the sound of her unique, powerful vocals. Her voice is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse without being derivative. McConnell totally owned her performance.
Within moments, two of the four coaches — Ricky Wilson and will.i.am —hit their buttons and turned their chairs. But coaches Tom Jones and Kylie Minogue hung back for a while to see how McConnell’s performance continued to develop. At last, they hit their buttons as a team.
When McConnell finished her performance, she was glowing with excitement.
And who wouldn’t be, after so clearly impressing their audience?
“That was really really really something,” said Coach Tom Jones. “It was different — I mean, you don’t sound like anybody, which I like, and I don’t think you were copying anybody that I know of, anyway, and that’s why I hit my button.
Each of the coaches had sat listening to McConnell’s performance with an expression of amazement, and each of them had something different to say.
“You’ve obviously got something, and it’s going to be magical, and I can’t wait to hear you sing again — and I can’t wait for you to pick me,” said Coach Ricky Wilson.
Coach will.i.am complimented not only McConnell’s vocals but also her entire performance, including the way she moved as she sang and the way she presented herself.
To him, she didn’t just sound like a star, although that was important, too, she looked like a star.
“What’s super exciting for us is we see this, but now it’s what we don’t yet see — your potential,” said Coach Kylie Minogue.
The judges were so excited that a full-out battle broke out between Minogue, Wilson, and will.i.am to see which coach McConnell would choose.
Although the two men promised to take her in a great direction with their coaching strategies, she ultimately chose Minogue.
The coach was so excited that she ran onto the stage to give McConnell a hug.
Although she didn’t go on to win the entire season, McConnell did do the two things she had set out to do. First, she launched her music career. But more importantly, she showed her son how to pursue his dreams.
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