Monday 3 August 2015

Imelda May: I turned down 'The Voice' before Jamelia got gig

Ken Sweeneny

Published 09/12/2012 | 06:00

Jamelia is a new judge on The Voice of Ireland.

The new mum reveals that she turned the offer down as she didn't like the idea of juding others.

UK R'n'B star Jamelia made headlines this year when she was announced as the new coach on The Voice Of Ireland.

But producers had originally sought someone closer to home to be a judge on the talent show – Dublin singer Imelda May.

However, the rockabilly hero declined the invitation and has spoken for the first time about why she turned down a starring role on the RTÉ show.

"They did ask me to be a judge but my life has always been about making music. I've never wanted to sit and judge other people," Imelda said.

But if anyone deserves the title of The Voice Of Ireland, it's the 38-year-old, whose career is a reality show in itself.

Singing in Dublin bars since she was a teenager, her unique vocals attracted the attention of broadcaster Jools Holland in 2008, who catapulted her to fame with an appearance on his BBC show. Two years later she was singing to an audience of 100 million at the US Grammy Awards. The stuff of dreams indeed. And it's Imelda's wish not to crush the dreams of any other aspiring singers which led to her turning down RTÉ.

"I had a think about The Voice, and I realised I wouldn't be able to eliminate people and watch their whole world fall apart. I couldn't give a thumbs up or thumbs down to someone's career," she said.

She said she had no regrets about disappointing producers.

"I know Sharon Corr, Kian Egan and Bressie. They've all told me it's a very exciting show to be involved in, but for me it boils down to 'Do I want to make music or be a judge on a TV talent show?'"

Now a mum, having giving birth to daughter Violet Kathleen with husband, guitarist Darrel Higham last August, Imelda revealed this will be her first Christmas out of Ireland as the couple are staying put in the UK till New Year's Eve when she will return home to headline the first official Gathering event of 2013, a special outdoor countdown concert in College Green, Dublin.

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