Fab four finalists' incredible journey to Voice of Ireland final

TVBy Eugene Masterson
Kelesa, Nigel, Michael and Laura
Kelesa, Nigel, Michael and Laura

TONIGHT’s Voice of Ireland finalists have undergone an incredible journey to make it to the top of the heap on Ireland’s biggest talent show.

Kelesa Mulcahy, Michael Lawson, Nigel Connell and Laura O’Connor will all sing their hearts out as they battle for top spot on the hit RTE programme.

Their coaches, Rachel Stevens, Una Healy, Kian Egan and Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin will all be hoping that they will be mentoring the fifth winner of the series.

Each of the four finalists has a unique and eclectic background, ranging from: 

  • Touring with Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan Carter, yet also fronting a heavy rock and wedding band – Nigel Connell.
  • Almost making it in the British charts with a girl group, only to pack it in to rear her young son – Kelesa Mulcahy.
  • Making it to boot camp at X Factor before being dropped from the battle stages of the Voice in 2014 by Kian – Laura O’Connor.
  • Working nightmare hours in a meat factory while repeating his Leaving Cert – Michael Lawson.

Kelesa (34), is the bookies favourite to win.

“I’m over the moon, it’s such a great feeling to be in the final,” raves Kelesa.

Kelesa grew up in Sligo and hung around with Kian as a child.

“We would have done musicals together,” she tells the Sunday World. “When I first entered, I thought ‘I hope he turns the chair because I’d definitely pick him’. Now here we are, old friends on a big TV show.” 

After making it to the last 28 of You’re A Star in 2003, Kelesa joined a girl group called Minx – which was managed by B*Witched’s Sinead O’Carroll. She eventually left the group to raise her son Jack.

“The band was really strong and I kind of panicked because I thought I wouldn’t get to see Jack, the way it was going,” she recalls. “They split up afterwards, soon after I left.”

Kelesa also sings with her own band, The Undercovers, works in The Draft House and Fifth on Teeling bars in Sligo, and is a gymnastics teacher.

Her boyfriend, James Hughes, from near Killoe, Co. Longford, will be in Dublin’s Helix cheering her on alongside her parents and her brother Wayne.

Nigel Connell (42), who hails from Athboy, Co. Meath, has a professional music background, having been Daniel O’Donnell’s drummer and one of his three backing singers for six years.

“Daniel has sent me a lovely video message for the final, from him and Majella,” he notes. 

Nigel grew up with a love of country music, but also plays in a Pearl Jam covers act, as well as fronting wedding band The Madisons.

“I do a lot of biker festivals with the rock band – the boys are always slagging me, asking ‘how’s wee Daniel’,” he smiles. 

Nigel is also starring on Nathan Carter’s new DVD Live at Marquee in Cork.

“I did a full month with Nathan on tour in Ireland,” he explains. I do a lot of backing vocals on other people’s albums, such as Derek Ryan.

Michael Lawlor (19), from Newbliss, Co Monaghan, is the youngest of the final four. He is repeating maths in his Leaving Cert, as he wants a better grade so he can do a computer course in Dundalk. He brought his mentor Bressie down to the meat factory where he works in Clones, the ABP Food Group.

“The meat-packing can be really tiring,” he says. “They’re long hours, 10 hours minimum. But the company has been rooting for me.”

Michael was born in London but moved to Ireland at the age of three. He is the eldest of three children and will be cheered on tonight by his mum, stepfather, siblings and granny.

He is single and says he’s “too busy” right now to find a partner.

“If I won, it would be life changing, but regardless, I intend to make the most of what I’ve go so far,” he says.

Laura O’Connor (20), from Finglas, north Dublin, is trying the Voice for the second time round, having been sent home in 2014 by Kian. She also made it to the boot camp stage of X Factor that year.

“It was a great experience, but I wasn’t too upset about it because I went straight from the Voice to X Factor, so it was all a bit too much,” she points out.

Laura works in the Equivalenza perfume store in the Jervis shopping centre, where they have kindly given her time off to take part in the Voice.

She had been going out with a lad who also worked in the same centre, but decided to call a halt to the relationship.

“I felt it was better to be on my own going through all of this and we were just going out for a few months,” she adds.

The Voice of Ireland final, tonight RTE 1 6.30pm – 8.30pm.