Oulton Broad singer Leanne Mitchell aims for success on BBC’s The Voice with mentor Tom Jones
SHE came close to giving up on her dream of becoming a singing star.
But in a last-ditch bid for success, Leanne Mitchell has won the admiration of a pop music legend – after being chosen by Sir Tom Jones to join his team on the BBC One talent show The Voice.
The 28-year-old from Oulton Broad showed off her vocal talents in front of nine million viewers last Saturday night when she appeared on the new show, billed as the BBC's rival to Britain's Got Talent.
And she won her ticket to the next round when she impressed Sir Tom enough for him to select her as part of his team.
Despite this memorable moment, Leanne has yet to come to terms with her achievement.
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The singer, who is also a voice coach at a theatre company based at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton, told The Journal: 'It has been one of the most surreal moments I've ever had – like it is happening to someone else.
'Tom Jones is so laid back and down to earth that you feel as if you can just be yourself around him. And the guys in my team are all lovely and we get on well, despite being really different.'
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Leanne was still a pupil at Benjamin Britten High School in Lowestoft when she started performing at Potters at the age of 15. Since then she has risen through the ranks, performing at its annual shows and providing a guiding hand to aspiring singers. But until her appearance on The Voice, she had all but given up on her dream of becoming a full-time singer after failing to secure the recording deal she longed for.
If she goes on to win The Voice, the top prize is a deal with the US record company Universal.
'It has been brilliant,' she said. 'It is something I would never normally push myself to go for because over the years I have worked with local record companies and the experience has made me lose a bit of faith in it all.
'I went for The Voice because it is completely different from anything else. Their ethic (of concentrating on someone's voice rather than their look or style) has something that appeals to me and I thought I'd go for it.'
Viewers will be able to see how Leanne fares in the next round of The Voice in a couple of weeks.
But no matter what the judges think, she will be assured of strong support here in north Suffolk.
Speaking about the support from her family and friends, she said: 'I think they are probably quite surprised that I went for it, but proud that I have. They are really behind me and want me to do well.
'I just hope that something comes from it and it can take my career in a new direction.'
Contestants on The Voice seek to win a place on the show by convincing Sir Tom or one of his fellow judges – Jessie J, Will.I.Am, and Danny O'Donoghue – to pick them for their teams.
This stage will be followed by a 'battle phase', with two members of each team competing with another, singing the same song, to win a place in the live shows.
Among the other singers taking part from East Anglia are Gorleston mum Toni Warne, who has made her mark on the show, while Benjamin Lake, from Cringleford, near Norwich, will take to the stage tomorrow.
? The Voice is edging ahead of its rival Britain's Got Talent (BGT), according to viewing figures, with 9.54m people switching onto BBC1 between 7pm and 8.20pm last Saturday, compared to 9.1m watching Simon Cowell's show between 8pm and 9.15pm on ITV1 – the first time it has had a bigger average audience.