Woodbridge: Nate James talks entering BBC One’s The Voice

Singer-songwriter Nate James performing on Saturdays The Voice. Photo: BBC/Wall to Wall/Guy Levy

Singer-songwriter Nate James performing on Saturdays The Voice. Photo: BBC/Wall to Wall/Guy Levy - Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall

NATE James may have wowed Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue on Saturday’s The Voice; but what they didn’t know was he had the Norovirus.

“I was not in a very good place that day, I was very sick but the outcome was fantastic considering I wasn’t 100 per cent,” says the Woodbridge singer-songwriter.

“It was pretty surreal, loads of my friends were like ‘you must have lost some weight, you must be so happy because you’re on TV’. I was like ‘yeah, I lost six pounds, that’s not the point, I’m sick as a dog; I don’t really care about weight loss right now’,” he laughs.

Domino star Jessie and The Script’s O’Donoghue turned their chairs around for his version of Seal’s Crazy.

“We edited the song slightly so I could belt out some notes towards the end and when I belt out notes I close my eyes so I didn’t actually know anyone had turned around until I had finished. I opened my eyes and there was Jessie going ‘hiya’ and Danny on the other end going ‘alright’ and I was like ‘they turned around’.

“God knows what was going on backstage with my parents and my family watching in the green room. It was a very emotional moment because I felt so rough and to see two faces looking back at me because they’d liked what they’d heard was a pretty special moment.”

The three times MOBO award nominee is no stranger to the spotlight. He’s worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones and Chaka Khan; written songs for Lemar, Craig David and Blue and released two solo albums with a third ready to go.

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“To be honest, for anyone walking up those stairs, on to that stage to sing to the back of four people is a bit of a weird concept,” he says.

Viewers didn’t get to see James enjoy some banter with the coaches, particularly the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am.

“He was very complimentary, he was like ‘I want to have your suit, I want your suit now, your voice is amazing’ and I said ‘well why didn’t you turn around’. He was like ‘oh I’ve only got one space left’ and I’m ‘not really an excuse is it will.i.am’.

“I’m quite a cheeky chappy in a nice way, there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, messing around with each other, which was great. Just to have that rapport with the four coaches who are huge in what they do.”

James went with J, who he’s known for about eight years.

“Not as (she’s) in my phone book, just as in we’ve done similar circuits. We’ve done gigs together, been signed, been dropped, had our heart broken by music and by the industry and I just felt a connection with her in general that I didn’t really feel with anybody else.

“It’s almost like she understands where I’ve been and the hassles I’ve had to deal with and so on in being an independent artist.”

James is one of several former stars who have appeared on the hit BBC One show, with varied success.

Former 1990s singers Kavana, Cleo Higgins from Cleopatra and Hear’say’s Danny Foster have auditioned this year alongside Colin Chisolm, lead singer of 1970s rock band Bilbo Baggins. Last series Five Star’s Denise Pearson and ex-5ive singer Sean Conlon entered.

James’ decision to apply was based on a mixture of things.

“Since releasing my first record in 2005 the market, the industry in general, music, has changed a lot in this country... it’s not so much about whether you can sing or your connection with your audience; it’s about how you get the product, your album, to the audience.

“When The Voice come along I was thinking in comparison to other shows out there it’s the most credible - it’s about being a singer, not about how you look or the overall package. I just thought it’s a great machine to have behind you as a vocalist; whether, like myself, you’ve had a career before or you’re an aspiring artist. I thought let’s just go for it and see what happens.”

James, who still classes himself as a Woodbridge boy despite living in London since being signed to Universal as a writer several years ago, is excited about the next rounds of the competition.

“I’ve been releasing music for the past eight years but this situation is all brand new. I’ve never worked with a major label, I’ve never worked with a massive TV corporation, I’ve never had that machine behind me. I’m very very excited to see what the outcome will be.”

This Saturday’s show features the last of the auditions, then the battle phases will decide who goes through to the live shows.

Last year’s winner, Leanne Mitchell, from Lowestoft, releases her debut album on May 27.

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