Brooke Scullion performing in The Voice final.
Fresh from wowing audiences across the UK and beyond on her way to the final of The Voice, County Derry's Brooke Scullion is already looking ahead to what the future holds.
There was a determined edge to the Bellaghy singer's voice as she recalled the journey she has been on over the last 13 months.
While she could be forgiven for taking a well-earned break after that musical marathon, Brooke has spent the days following the recording of the final analysing her work.
“I know I would have loved it to be live and have a live audience, but those two days to process everything have been invaluable,” she told the County Derry Post.
“I've had such an amazing time sitting with the information and processing everything myself and I've been so happy with my performances, and that's the main goal here.
“For me, I can see the progression so easily as I look through each performance. I think the battle was my worst performance, but it's the one I learned the most from.”
Brooke performing her duet on Saturday night with singer Ella Eyre.
Brooke rated her performances of 'Nothing Breaks Like a Heart' and 'On the Edge of Seventeen' as her two best during the series, and the growth in confidence since she first stepped on stage was evident.
The 21-year-old has thrown herself into the process and is delighted to have come through with a clearer idea of where her music career is going.
“The whole process has just shaped me into an artist, it has validated me,” she said.
“Before, I couldn't have told you what I liked singing, but I now know what music I want to write, what songs I'm good at, because I did try every single genre.
“I wanted to give myself every opportunity to show my versatility. I was doing ballads, men's songs, country songs and love songs. I gave everything I had.
“I'm thinking of going country-pop, maybe go and do some song-writing workshops in Nashville. I got some cool messages from established people looking to work with me already, so it's been pretty cool.”
Bellaghy star Brooke performing in St Patrick's College Maghera's 'Magic of the Musicals'
The excitement of Nashville feels a long way from Bellaghy, but wherever she goes, Brooke can count on the support of her home town, and all associated with her.
Her former music teacher, Jolene Conway, told us during the week how Brooke's work ethic and sheer determination complemented her talent perfectly.
“I read that interview before I took part in the final. The way she spoke about me was honestly the nicest, but she's always said that,” she said.
“She has been so solid throughout the whole competition. She's given me advice and helped me believe in my performances and give it everything I have.
“Hearing Gemma Bradley introduce my song on BBC Radio Ulster must have been so nostalgic for her. Miss Conway works hard, and I'm sure this made her life, seeing her two past pupils do so well.
“I'm sure for her looking at people doing so well has to make everything worthwhile. She does give her heart and soul and I know that I'm the better for it.
“That [work ethic] is the most important thing for me. People say it's easy to sing, but you have to constantly work on your craft, and that's why I tried to reinvent every performance.
“I wanted to show my versatility, I wanted to show people that if they were going to work with me, I would be willing to try every single thing possible.
“I'll continue to work hard. I think that's what sets me apart. It's easy to just sing a song, but I've been trying to consistently better myself and I'll continue to do that.”
Brooke released her debut single 'Attention' during the long Covid-19 lay-off.
Performing at the sharp end of a UK-wide competition is challenging and Brooke was thrown a further curve ball with coach Meaghan Trainor being unable to perform the duet due to Covid restrictions.
Into the void stepped English singer Ella Eyre, but Brooke has revealed the duet with Meghan will happen eventually.
“Meghan has been texting me saying I'm coming over to sing with her anyway and write in the studio, so I will get to sing with her. I just got the best of both worlds getting to sing with Ella Eyre,” she said.
“Ella was such a legend, genuinely. We're both kind of weird, we just got on so well. It was like a three-way conversation between us back stage, all texting each other; it was class.
“I treated that performance like a festival. The way we were ad-libbing and stuff, there were things in that performance I hadn't done in any of the rehearsals.
“It was just because I was feeling like I was performing at Glastonbury or something, it was just so cool. I didn't want to wait, so I took every minute of it in.”
County Derry has had plenty of reason to tune into ITV1 this year, with Moneyneena's Dara McNicholl reaching the final of The Voice Kids back in August.
When Brooke heard there was a fellow Derry native working his way through the youth competition, she got in touch.
“He is the nicest child ever to have graced this earth,” she said.
“We've only met virtually. I knew he was on The Voice because the camera men were telling me there was a wee boy from round my area on The Voice Kids.
“I did some digging and found out it was him, and just texted him and was communicating through Instagram since. I'm sure we'll meet in future.
“There are so many people with so much potential here. England is saturated with people looking to be 'stars' but there is that humble thing in Ireland where people are too shy to come forward.
“I suppose it's the time now for everybody to just realise their potential and there is that good, humble thing in Irish people where they are willing to work hard.”
Does that mean The Voice should be holding blind auditions in the South Derry hills?
“They wouldn't be wasting their time anyway if they did come! They do one in Belfast, but in South Derry, there seems to be something in the water,” added Brooke.
Brooke, third from the left, with the Wolfe Tone's Scór group.
There is no doubt a long career in the music industry lies ahead of the Bellaghy singer, but as one door opens, another one appears to be closing.
Hopes of seeing Brooke once again donning the blue jersey of the Wolfe Tones appear to have faded.
“The camogie career is over. I can't afford any more broken bones,” she grins.
“If I went through the list of broken bones you'd be writing all day. Leg, knee, knee surgery, skull, collar bones, fingers, it's not worth it at this stage.
“I've hung up the boots at the ripe age of 21!”
The hurl might be on prolonged hiatus, but she looks set to wield the microphone to great effect for many years to come.
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