Derry singing sensation Ben Kelly, who a year ago wowed the judging panel on BBC’s The Voice UK, has just released his debut five track EP, City Boy.
But even though the EP is already gaining him a legion of new fans - to add to the 1 million fans who follow him on YouTube - the 23 year old former Lumen Christi pupil said he is still trying to find the sound which best reflects his soulful voice.
City Boy is a purposely upbeat EP, filled with poppy-dance music and co-produced by Derry’s own Peter Cunnah and Ryan McGroarty from The Wonder Villains.
“It is a step away from what people know me best for,” Ben admitted, “which is basically me sitting behind a piano - but that was a very conscious decision. I wanted to do something upbeat and fun.”
The sound is a world away from Ben’s wonderful version of ‘Rocket Man’ which saw all four chairs turn for him during the Blind Auditions in ‘The Voice’ - but it goes some way to cementing him as the “ready made pop star” Jessie J described him as.
Ben looks at his experience on ‘The Voice’ as a real learning experience - but he said he believes the days of the TV talent show may well be numbered.
“I don’t think The Voice turned out to be what people thought it would be,” he said. “I thought it was going to be amazing which is why I was so gutted when I was sent home after the Battle Round, but in hindsight it was probably a good thing.”
Competition winner Leanne Mitchell has failed to make a mark on the world of music and Ben said he is now going back to his Plan A - which is to build his career.
Already Ben is one of the hardest working young people in music, combining gigging with recording, writing and breaking into the world of music journalism.
“I’m getting a look at the industry from all angles,” he said, “learning how to market myself - how to manage myself - I’m getting a wealth of experience.”
He has plans to come back to his native Derry this weekend and says he will continue to work with local musicians such as Peter Cunnah and The Wonder Villains.
His debut single ‘Home’ - which is his tribute to the City of Culture - has earned him a keen local following which he is determined to build on.
“The City of Culture is a banner for us all to fly under,” he said. “It’s not owned by any group of people but by this city as a whole and I am convinced there will be a lot of opportunities to come out of it.”
City Boy is available on ITunes.