From Popstars to The Voice - how East Anglian singers wowed reality TV
- Credit: Archant
Since Popstars launched 20 years ago, followed by a stream of other talent shows, they have helped many hopefuls to stardom.
Here in East Anglia, our homegrown stars include Myleene Klass, who featured in that very first Popstars series, and Olly Murs, who was a runner-up in The X Factor.
Nationally, other top names who came to fame via the talent show route include Liberty X from Popstars (ironically, made up of the singers who lost out in the contest), Girls Aloud from Popstars The Rivals and Will Young from Pop Idol, with Gareth Gates as runner up.
The X Factor brought us One Direction, Little Mix, Leona Lewis, JLS, Alexandra Burke and Jedward, while Lemar didn’t win Fame Academy but still became a star.
Here we look at some of the talented singers from East Anglia who have taken the TV spotlight in talent shows and wowed the judges over the years.
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Myleene Klass - Popstars
One of the first top names to come through from talent shows, this top singer, presenter and model grew up in Gorleston. She became a household name when she won a place in the band Hear’Say on Popstars in 2001.
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Although they had two number one hit singles, the band soon split and Myleene embarked on a successful solo career in classical music.
In 2006, she starred in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and she has hosted numerous shows, including BBQ Champ. Myleene has just been in the headlines over her shock exit from another hit weekend talent show, Dancing on Ice.
Olly Murs – The X Factor
Olly, from Witham in Essex, might be a current judge on The Voice, but he shot to stardom via another top talent show, The X Factor, in 2009. He came second to Joe McElderry in the final, but that didn’t stop him becoming a big star.
He has since sold more than 10 million records and released four number one albums, as well as having a career as a TV presenter, and he’s looking forward to getting back on the road once touring is allowed again.
Matt Cardle - The X Factor
Since winning The X Factor in 2010, where he beat future supergroup One Direction, the Essex singer has had multi-platinum recording success, and clocked up more than 20 million streams of his songs, as well as being a Brit award nominee.
Matt grew up in Halstead and went to the independent Stoke College near Haverhill, before studying music at Colchester Institute and media at Braintree College. He has often performed around East Anglia, and is also a West End star. He has just released a new single, Purple Crayon, and is also releasing a new album.
Jon Courtenay - Britain’s Got Talent
Comedian, singer and pianist Jon Courtenay, who grew up in Ipswich and Martlesham, won the 2020 Britain’s Got Talent final, scooping a £250,000 prize and a spot in the Royal Variety Show.
Jon, whose real name is Jonathan Young, is a former pupil at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, and received a lot of support from East Anglia. Although he now lives in Manchester, he is planning to return to his home area to perform at Ipswich Corn Exchange in September.
Colin Thackery - Britain’s Got Talent
Singers linked to East Anglia have now been crowned as overall winner of Britain’s Got Talent two years running. In 2019, Norwich Korean War veteran and Chelsea pensioner Colin, who used to live in Thorpe St Andrew, won the nation’s heart with his poignant performances.
He went on to become the oldest singer to sign a record deal, at the age of 89, and released a top 20 album, Love Changes Everything.
Souparnika Nair - Britain’s Got Talent
Talented youngster Souparnika Nair, a pupil at Sebert Wood Community Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, made it through to the semi final stage of last year’s BGT. Sou, who has now turned 11, just missed out on a place in the final.
Jade Mayjean - The Voice
Singer-songwriter Jade, a former pupil of Northgate High School in Ipswich, gained national fame when she appeared in The Voice, with Kylie Minogue as her mentor.
She went on to release an album, 20Sixty, in 2018, and built a successful career as a performer. However, Jade has said it isn’t stardom which has given her the most pleasure, but helping young people, as a support worker and a facilitator for Girls Where You At? sessions in Ipswich. Jade has also spoken about the pressures on talent show contestants.
Ronan Parke – Britain's Got Talent
Ronan Parke finished runner-up on the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent in 2011, when he was only 12. The singer from Poringland received high praise from Simon Cowell and was later signed by Sony Music where he released his debut album, which reached number 22 in the UK album chart.
In 2012 the former Framingham Earl High School parted company with Sony Music. He has since worked with a number of labels and posts music on streaming platforms and social media.
De’Vide - The Voice
Ipswich rap duo Barny Holmes and Lex Flowers got Jessie J to turn around in the 2013 series of The Voice, but lost out in the battle round.
However, they said they had learned a lot. Barny, who also appeared in The X Factor in 2012, performed with Ed Sheeran at various Suffolk venues as a teenager. He now lives in Norwich and pre-lockdown was performing a wide range of gigs. Barny is releasing a new single, My Heart.
Toni Warne – The Voice
Appearing on The Voice was the second time Toni, of Great Yarmouth, tasted talent show fame. She had already sung her way to three wins on Opportunity Knocks in 1987 at the age of nine, when she lived in Ipswich.
Toni went on to release a cover of Michael Jackson's 'Ben' which went straight into the charts. In 2012 she performed on The Voice and was picked by Jessie J for her team. Warne made it to week four before she was eliminated. She has since performed a one-woman show on cruise ships.
Singer Sam, from Spixworth, wowed the judges on Britain's Got Talent in 2012 with his performance of Make You Feel My Love. He went on to compete in the final but turned down the opportunity of a management deal to return to his folk music roots.
Now based in Bristol, he won a BBC Radio 2's Folk Award and has released albums, toured and appeared at festivals, performing music that draws on his Gaelic heritage and combines traditional and popular music.
Nate James - The Voice
The singer-songwriter from Woodbridge had already achieved success before appearing on the show in 2013. He was mentored by Jessie J but didn't win through in the battle rounds.
Nate, who was born in Lakenheath, has received three MOBO award nominations and sold more than one million albums internationally. He has also worked with stars including Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones and Chaka Khan. He has released a new single, Heartstrings.
Leanne Mitchell - The Voice
Leanne, from Lowestoft, was the first-ever winner of The Voice in 2012, after being guided to success by mentor Sir Tom Jones.
She released a cover of the Whitney Houston hit Run to You, and went on to release an album in 2013. Although she was dropped by her record company the following year, she has continued to perform and work with singing students.
Jack and Tim Goodacre – Britain's Got Talent
Jack, then aged 12, and his dad Tim, from Eccles near Attleborough, won through to the final of BGT in 2018. The pair, well-known as buskers in Norwich, won Simon Cowell's golden buzzer spot with their performance of their original song The Lucky Ones. They have toured the UK since their appearance.
Jack had already appeared in the semi-finals of The Voice Kids in 2017, where he was coached by McFly star Danny Jones and he also played Zack in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End adaptation of School of Rock.
Chris James – The Voice
Singer, musician and audiobook narrator Chris James, aka Chris Preece, from Norwich got Olly Murs to turn round when he sang a song from Aladdin in The Voice in 2018.
He was knocked out in the battle rounds of the show, after what Olly described as an “amazing battle”.
Bradley Waterman – The Voice
Norwich singer-songwriter Bradley appeared in The Voice in 2016, and was originally chosen by Paloma Faith before being “stolen” by Boy George for his team. However, he missed out on a place in the live rounds.
Connie Lamb – The Voice
Singer Connie from Woodbridge was chosen for Jennifer Hudson’s team in The Voice 2019, after both Olly Murs and Sir Tom Jones hit their buzzers for her, but narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
She performed Anne-Marie’s 2002 in the first knockout round. Connie, a student at the Brit School, had earlier auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2016.