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TOP TALENT Meet the Mayo woman bidding for stardom on the new series of The Voice UK

Singer is back on track after beating competition for a shot at fame on top TV talent show

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Chantelle Padden sings in The Voice UK

Chantelle Padden sings in The Voice UK

Chantelle Padden sings in The Voice UK

A young Mayo woman, who almost gave up on her dream to be a country music singer, is now bidding for stardom on the new series of The Voice UK.

Stunning Chantelle Padden, from Binghamstown near Belmullet, is the only Irish contestant who gets the opportunity to sing for Tom Jones, Will.i.am, Anne-Marie and Olly Murs on the show this month.

The 24-year-old performer is one of 100 contestants to reach the Virgin Media One show's blind auditions from the 100,000 hopefuls who entered.

Struggles

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Chantelle as a child

Chantelle as a child

Chantelle as a child

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Chantelle yesterday spoke of her past struggles to get a break after enjoying early success as a child singer.

She had released CDs during her childhood, was regularly played on local radio and toured Ireland and the UK performing with her grandad, Tony Cawley.

Chantelle even starred in her own show at The Galtymore in London's Cricklewood at the age of 12 - breaking Irish country legend Margo's record as the youngest singer to perform there.

However, Chantelle's career stalled in her teenage years and she fell into depression.

"Around the age of 14 I was in a bad place for a while," she reveals. "I gained a load of weight and was about four or five stone heavier. I shaved all my hair off and I looked very different.

"It was just because I thought, 'I'm not getting anywhere, no one is interested in me.' It was a typical teenage meltdown. I wanted to be on the radio, I wanted to be the next country artist in Ireland. I grew up with that dream.

"By the time I got to secondary school it just felt I was slipping through the net. I was at that awkward age where I couldn't go out as an adult country singer, but I was no longer a child. I got inside my own head and started losing hope and I was down in the dumps for a few years."

Amazing

It was her sister, Joanne, an All-Ireland boxing champion, who helped Chantelle turn her life around.

"She was like, 'C'mon, the fitness from boxing is amazing.' And thanks to boxing I lost a load of weight. I'd just do the exercises I didn't do the boxing."

Chantelle then decided to step back from music and went to work in the UK, but then a video of her singing at her going-away party went viral and resulted in the talented young entertainer landing a major management deal.

"Back in April I was approached and asked if I would be interested in auditioning for The Voice," Chantelle says.

"I wasn't sure if country music would work on The Voice, but I gave it a go and so far so good.

"The Voice UK is a fantastic platform, so who knows what the future is going to bring now," she adds.

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