Derry singing sensation Brooke Scullion is determined to give her local community something to smile about this weekend when she performs in The Voice UK semi-finals.
It’s been a whirlwind year for the 21-year-old whose voice and personality made her a household name in Derry and beyond.
Her ascent, stymied somewhat by the pandemic, has continued upwards as she released her first single ‘Attention’ in September to critical acclaim.
The proud Bellaghy woman who graduated from Ulster University’s Magee campus this summer captivated the television audience at the beginning of this year with a mesmerising cover of Lewis Capaldi’s hit single Bruises.
So impressed were judges Meghan Trainor, Tom Jones, will.i.am and Olly Murs that all four went on the charm offensive to convince Brooke to join their team.
American singer-songwriter Trainor prevailed and confidently declared that she had the winning contestant - a prophesy that could move a step closer to reality on Saturday.
Brooke just wants to perform to the best of her ability and distract people from the pandemic which has pervaded everyday life for the past nine months.
She said: “There’s been so much worry and doubt this year and the semi-finals have given people something to look forward to.
“People have been so lovely and so supportive, I’ve had so many ‘good luck’ messages and people wishing me well, so I feel the love for sure.”
To have reached this stage ‘feels amazing’, she explained: “I can’t believe I’ve got this far, especially as I was never originally planning auditioning.
“My friend Niamh put me forward when they were holding the auditions near uni’. It’s surreal to be over here and in the Semi-Final, but I’m excited.”
Brooke’s parents are able to travel to watch the show at the weekend, and the rest of the family will be cheering her on in Bellaghy, not least her two biggest fans, grannies Peggy and Sheila.
The doting Irish grannies endeared themselves to the public at the Blind Auditions stage as they offered moral support before Brooke attempted to set them up with Tom Jones and Olly Murs.
To their bewilderment they’ve now become social media ‘influencers’, Brooke joked: : “Even though both my grannies live very close to us we’ve still been very careful to make sure we’re keeping them safe so where we can we’ve visited them, or left them off wee treats, but I haven’t hugged either of them in 8 months.
“I actually gave my granny a hat that I was gifted on Instagram and told it was for her, she didn’t quite understand how it works but the video went down a storm on Instagram - I’ve told granny she’s an Influencer now!
“They’re both excited for Saturday’s show, they’ve missed the spotlight!”
Being home has allowed Brooke to devote time to another passion of hers, camogie.
She’s been back training when the weather permitted.
For the most part she’s been focused on her music my head down and committed to working on her new single ‘Attention’.
She connected remotely with producers in London and the song was recorded in Belfast.
Brooke is happy with the reception is got when released at the end of September.
“It went down so well, making playlists on Spotify and everything, they’ve played it on the radio too which is mad! So that’s what I focused on during lockdown.
“The reaction to Attention has been amazing, this is exactly the kind of music I want to be making so to be able to have something that is all mine out there for people to listen to is so exciting - I also am able to see when people have added it to their own playlists, which is so funny!
“I love that people are loving it.
“I found a local videographer, Jacob Henry, who suggested we film at Castlerock as it’s quiet - but we were definitely getting some looks! But we’d so much fun that we just rolled with it,” she said.
Her coach Meghan Trainor has been supportive throughout the show and kept in touch during lockdown.
Brooke added: “She’s such a genuine person and she really cares and I feel a real connection with her.”
The show’s pandemic-enforced hiatus between her last performance in March has allowed Brooke to grow as a musician.
Like many artists she’s missed the thrill of performing in front of a live audience.
“I’ve just been waiting for all these months to get back on stage so being able to record was so fun because it meant singing again as well as some covers I’ve been putting out on my Instagram, but nothing beats the real thing of getting out there and performing. “
Her feelings ahead of Saturday, she says assuredly: “Just excitement - I’m not even nervous, I’m just loving every moment even rehearsals have been so much fun.”
Whether she progresses to the finals on Saturday or not the Derry woman would love to work with more songwriters.
“I loved the process of making Attention and think that collaborative process is something I want to work on more.
“Recording my own music, in my own style and putting out the music I want to make is a big goal for me,” she concluded.
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