As The Voice Kids returns there's a fourth coach to impress. Pop star - and original Voice UK mentor - Jessie J talks being back in that big red chair...
As if auditioning isn’t nerve-wracking enough for the youngsters on The Voice Kids, when the show returns this week, there will be a fourth coach to win over as singer-songwriter – and original Voice UK mentor – Jessie J is back!
Hitmaker Jessie reunites with pal will.i.am alongside fellow coaches, McFly’s Danny Jones and pop princess Pixie Lott, as a new bunch of seven-14-year-olds take to the stage and sing their hearts out in the hope that one of those big red chairs will turn. And this time round they can audition as duos, too!
Standing at nearly 5’8’’ and known for her edgy, on-stage persona, Jessie is every inch the popstar powerhouse when TV Times meets her. So what do the pint-sized wannabe popstars make of her?
“I know my reputation of what people expect me to be is different to how I am when they meet me,” says Jessie, 31. “People say: ‘You’re not aggressive’. I’ve NEVER been aggressive! I care about people, especially kids”.’
And, as Jessie J reveals, she’s more than ready to nurture the next young singing star in The Voice Kids…
You were a coach on the first two series of The Voice UK in 2012 and 2013. Is it nice to be back?
Jessie J: “Yes. The first time I did this was seven years ago and I was practically a kid myself! But having some time away, I’ve learned a lot and experienced a lot. It’s nice being back with will.i.am, and Pixie and Danny are great. And these kids are amazing – I’ve never heard anything like it!”
You took part in and won Chinese talent show Singer last year. Has that given you a new perspective as a coach?
JJ: “It has. When I tour, I can sing 20 songs a night but, being the only non-Chinese artist on a show with established Chinese artists, the pressure I felt to perform just one song a night with the audience and the cameras there was immense. I was terrified as an adult, so I can imagine what an eight-year-old feels like coming out to four big red chairs facing the other way.”
On occasions where you and another coach have turned for a singer, how have you found pitching against them?
JJ: “There were moments where I’d almost forgotten how to pitch. The first few times I lost a pitch, I remember thinking: ‘I’ve really got to up my game’. But I was actually really surprised with the amount of kids that did pick me! I’m not competitive at all, though. I’d say Pixie’s competitive probably because she’s won two years in a row – but I learned so much watching all the coaches.”
So how does mentoring kids compare to mentoring adults?
JJ: “Being able to be like a big sister to them and really nurture their experience has been inspiring. I’ve wanted to instil stability, love and discipline but I’ve also wanted to make sure they’re free enough to be themselves. It’s really something knowing I have such an impact on them. They’re staring up at me and listening to every single thing I say, so I want to make sure what I’m saying is valuable to them.”
Unlike on The Voice UK, the coaches on The Voice Kids can offer feedback to unsuccessful singers at the blind auditions. What advice do you give?
JJ: “When I was auditioning for West End musicals as a kid, I remember not getting a part in Annie. I was nine and taller and louder than everyone else in the room; I was like this giant, singing thing. That was my first huge ‘no’. But that day my mum told me: ‘Something else is coming’. That little piece of advice has stuck with me ever since. Two weeks later, I got my first leading role in Whistle Down the Wind, so she was right! I like being able to share that story with the kids on this show.”
The Voice Kids, with Jessie J, returns on Saturday June 8 at 8pm on ITV.