'The Voice' defends right of veterans to compete
PRODUCERS of RTE talent show 'The Voice Of Ireland' have defended the participation of established performers in the new series.
Beginning its 17-week run last night, Meteor-nominated singer Tara Blaise, as well as Leslie-Ann Halvey, who now uses the stage name Onya Gray, and once represented Ireland at Eurovision as a member of girlband Black Daisy, were among those seen performing on last night's 'blind auditions'.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Larry Bass, managing director of Screentime ShinAwil, makers of the show, said: "People are entitled to a second chance.
"Unlike a business person who is declared bankrupt and is barred from being a director of a company for 12 years, if you had a career and it hasn't worked, you can try again on 'The Voice'.
"It's difficult to sustain a career and it's not a crime not to have had runaway global success," he added.
Tara, previously lead singer with rock band Kaydee, had been signed to EMI, but when her 2005 debut solo album -- 'Dancing On Tables Barefoot' -- was released, she began working with The Corrs' manager John Hughes.
However, talent shows can be as unpredictable as music careers, with Ms Blaise failing to inspire any of the four coaches -- Westlife's Kian Egan, Sharon Corr, Niall Breslin or Brian Kennedy -- to select her.
This is despite her once having toured with Mr Kennedy, and sharing a manager with Ms Corr.
Series producer Linda McQuaid commented that Ms Blaise's choice of the Bon Jovi track 'Livin' On a Prayer' may not have been the best decision.
"Tara applied independently of her own free will and volition, basically. I think what Tara did was possibly pick the wrong song, but they were all told there was [an] audience in the room and it was up to them," she said.
But rival Ms Gray, who was a finalist in RTE's 'You're A Star', did get a second chance to 'start over' when Ms Corr agreed to mentor her.
It was a highly emotional day of auditions, with several of the acts who failed to find a mentor, breaking down in tears on camera.
However, the show's producers admitted they do not offer the losers any counselling.
"No, we don't have a professional counsellor sitting by the side of the stage and it hasn't been an issue," said Mr Bass. "Auditioning is part and parcel of being an artist, whether auditioning for a school play, or a record company.
"When we did 'Popstars', we brought a clinical psychologist to the bootcamp in case contestants were missing home, but he had nothing to do. The young performers loved the experience, even the ones who didn't get through," he added.
'The Voice Of Ireland' is designed so the judges sit with their backs to the contestants during the five 'blind audition' shows.
A singer is selected to go through to the next round based on their skills and not their appearance.
Label Universal Music will sign the winner of the series.