Northern Ireland news

Co Derry singer due to compete in the final of The Voice 'overwhelmed' by support from back home

Castledawson singer, Jonny Brooks, who will compete in the final of ITV's The Voice on Saturday night, pictured with his mentor, Tom Jones
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Derry singer who will compete in the final of ITV's The Voice this weekend has said he is "overwhelmed" by the support he has received from back home.

Jonny Brooks, who is from Castledawson, said he feels like he has "won already" as being on the talent show has been a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

The 30-year-old, who had formerly studied marketing at university, has been performing, playing his guitar and singing, since he was 16.

It was his mother, Marie who persuaded him to pursue The Voice and he initially auditioned in front of a production team in Belfast.

A few months later, the Castledawson man found himself taking part in a blind audition in Manchester before the show's four judges, Tom Jones, Meghan Trainor, and Olly Murs.

Following his performance, both Tom Jones and Olly Murs turned their chairs and Jonny opted to join the legendary Welsh performer's team.

Since then, he has continued to sing his way to success on the show and on Saturday night, he will take part in the final and compete against three other contestants including fellow Derry singer, Brooke Scullion, who comes from nearby Bellaghy.

But the competition is friendly as the two young singers are linked by their grandfathers who played Gaelic together at club and county level. Both were also involved with Derry in the All Ireland final in 1958.

Roddy Gribbin (Jonny's grandfather) managed the '58 team, while Patsy McLarnon (Brooke Scullion's grandad) played on the team.

Speaking to the Irish News, Jonny said the experience so far had been "amazing".

"I am more excited for the final," he said.

"I was very nervous for the semi-final. It's been very, very busy in terms of learning songs and learning your routine as to where you come on.

"I am just trying to learn the process really. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity".

The Co Derry singer said he is "honoured" to have Tom Jones as his mentor.

"He is a living legend," he said.

"No matter how many times you go back and think about what reality is for you now, it never sinks in.

"I am just honoured to be mentored by him, to take advice of him and hear what her has to say".

While he can't reveal what he will be singing on Saturday night, Jonny said it is "incredible" that one of his performances will be a duet with Tom Jones.

The Northern Ireland singer also thanked all those who have been supporting him back home.

"I am overwhelmed," he said.

"I had a couple of moments to myself this week. Moments of appreciation for all the support from home and far and wide. It's heart warming to see the effect it is having on people. It's great.

"I feel in a way I have won already".

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