Derry singers to do battle in “The Voice” of Ireland

Johnny Kohlmeyer
Johnny Kohlmeyer
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Two Derry singers with two very different styles are hoping it’s second time lucky for them as they face the Battle Rounds in the Voice of Ireland this Sunday night on RTE One.

Johnny Kohlmeyer and Ciaran O’Driscoll have both previously competed for The Voice UK without success but this time round, in front of the Irish judges they have made it past the blind auditions into the cut throat Battle Rounds where they will fight for a place in the show’s finals.

Ciaran O'Driscoll

Ciaran O'Driscoll

Thankfully for the Derry lads they are on different teams so don’t have to compete against each other in the Battle Rounds but that doesn’t mean the competition is not fierce between them, in a light-hearted way.

“I tell Ciaran he defected to Belfast so he doesn’t count as a real Derry man anymore,” Johnny laughed while Ciaran said: “Johnny tells me he has the whole of Derry behind him. I’ll have the rest of the world then.”

The pair are both competing for the overall prize of being crowned The Voice of Ireland but their musical styles could not be more different.

Johnny, from Shantallow is a big fan of country music - and wowed judge Una Foden, of The Saturdays, with his performance of ‘Somebody Like You’ by Keith Urban in the Blind Auditions.

Having failed to get judges to turn on the UK show, he says his experience of the Irish production has been completely different.

“I was never going to stop after I didn’t get through on the UK show,” he said. “I like to use the inspiration of Connor MacGregor and keep that sense of self belief - I’ll keep going ‘til I stop believing.

“I think if one door closes, you put your boot to another one!”

So he took the Irish show as a fresh new challenge and it has been one he has loved. “The whole atmosphere is different - it’s like a family. Everyone has been watching out for everyone else and when you show up in RTE your made to feel like a star.

“I don’t think we even realise how big the show is up here - once your in Dublin people recognise you. It has given me a wee taste of what it would be like to achieve that level of success.”

And of course working with Una Foden hasn’t been tough either. “Any job where you get to flirt with Una Foden every day is a good one,” he said.

Johnny is hoping to capitalise on the resurgence in popularity of country music - but he’s definitely not aiming to be the next Daniel O’Donnell - “I’m a fan of the new Nashville style of music.”

Ciaran O’Driscoll, who has been performing as a professional actor and singer for the last 10 years could not be more different.

His remarkable vocal range baffled judges on The Voice UK who were unsure at first if they were hearing one or two singers. His eclectic sound combines modern music with a sight operatic twist - and he earned a place on Rachel Stevens’ - formerly of S Club Seven - team.

“I didn’t start singing lessons until I was 17,” Ciaran said. “But I’d always been singing - so I found I could sing very high but also as a counter tenor which leads itself to a more operatic style.”

After failing to wow the judges on the UK Show he thought long and hard about competing for the Irish version - and decided to go for it.

“I see this as my job. I try not to think of the competition aspect but instead to go out there and sing and do my best, as I would in any job.

“That said, the Battle Rounds took me to the very edge of my nerves. I don’t normally get nervous but this was a very concentrated atmosphere - a strange environment.”

What Ciaran likes more about The Voice of Ireland is that the competitors are more on a level playing field.

“In the UK show, there are a lot of professional singers - people who do it full time. The Irish show gives a lot of people a chance to be heard.”

The Battle Rounds will air on RTE One on Sunday at 6.30 p m.

The winners will then proceed to the Live Knock Out Rounds.