A KILMUCKRIDGE singer, who made it through to the final 50 of The X Factor in the UK, has described the 'Boot Camp' experience as ' the most horrible week' of her life.
Sheila O'Sullivan, lead singer with ' The Jades', this week described her experiences auditioning for The X Factor, and warned others thinking of auditioning to be aware of what might lie ahead.
'I was so upset, not because I didn't get through, but because we were treated so badly,' she said. 'All I am is a girl with a dream, and I want to follow that dream.'
Sheila (28) had previous experience of television talent shows, coming as runner up in RTE'S ' You're a Star' in 2005, with the quartet 'Jade', who later became trio ' The Jades', releasing their first album 'Amber Skies' in 2009, and supporting acts such as ' The Bangles' on tours. She's now based in Manchester, working in the media industry.
Sheila decided to try for ' The X Factor' auditions in Manchester, and made it onto the stage in front of the four judges. 'I got four yes's,' she said. ' Kelly Rowland said she could listen to my voice all day long, while Gary Barlow said I had a beautiful Celtic voice, and he could hear every word I sang crystal clear. Louis Walsh said I had a great recording voice, and Tulisa said she really liked my voice and compared it to Alanis Morissette's.'
However, her X Factor dream turned sour when she travelled to London to take part in Boot Camp.
'Boot Camp was the most unorganised thing I've ever been involved in,' she said. She claimed that on the first day, they were brought to a hotel at around 10 a.m. and left in a large room to 9.30 p.m. that night, before being allowed to go to their hotel rooms.
'For that whole time, we were given a brown paper bag with a sandwich and a child's carton of orange. I felt like a prisoner in that room. It was unbelievable,' she said. ' I went there feeling positive, and I knew you'd have to expect some of that. I went there looking forward to a full week of music, but I'd say I sang ten minutes in the whole week.
'For most of the week, you were just waiting in a holding room,' she continued. She described some of the contentants as divas 'singing, shouting, screaming, and attention seeking.
'I had to sit in this mad house all week, starving and tired, with divas doing certain things to get in front of the camera. It was such a horrible experience.
'I'm used to working hard, but this was literally sitting in a room of lunatics,' she said, adding that she did however meet a 'few nice people' and befriended some of the contestants, and was delighted to see some of them even go on to the judges' houses.
Sheila said that the decision to axe up to 50 boot camp finalists straight away was cruel. 'It was such a cruel thing to do to those people,' she said. ' They had all taken time off work. But if I'm honest, I wish I'd been kicked off so I could have gone back and not used up precious holiday days.'
She claimed that in Boot Camp, six of them had to sing a song by The Script, but weren't allowed to change the key to suit their voice. ' That is one of the most unprofessional things I've ever come across,' she said.
She said the clip of their performance singled out one contestant who seemed to be preferred over the others. Even though she was one of those who made it past this stage, she wasn't shown on screen once.
The following day was a big day of rehearsals, and she was up at 6 a.m. for rehearsals, but waited until 12.30 a.m. that night to get some time with the vocal coach.
'I was so tired and drained that my voice was almost completely gone,' she said.
The following day, Sheila sang in front of an audience of 5,000, and thankfully her voice returned. 'I got a really good reaction from the crowd but they chose not to show it,' she said.
When she returned to the stage with the over 25s for the judges' verdict, she wasn't selected to go to the judges' houses. 'Gary Barlow told us to ' keep going' and 'don't give up',' she said. 'I've worked too hard to hear Gary Barlow say that, when acts that aren't talented, and can't sing are put through.
'I said the only reason I was here was to sell albums, and 'clearly this is just the Freak Factor'. He put his head down and said sorry. At the end of the day, he's very talented, and acts are put through for entertainment.