Singer-songwriter Paloma Faith talks all about the joys of mentoring little ones as she becomes The Voice Kids' newest coach…
Having been a coach on The Voice UK in 2016, singer-songwriter Paloma Faith is no stranger to that big, red, spinning chair as she joins ITV's The Voice Kids, this Saturday, as its newest superstar coach.
The I've Gotta Be Me hitmaker takes her seat alongside resident coaches Pixie Lott, Danny Jones and will.i.am as the search begins once again to find the next pint-sized popstar.
As the pre-recorded Blind Audition shows begin, and youngsters between seven and 14 take to the stage, our coaches will be listening out for that special something that will make them turn their chairs around.
We chatted to Paloma Faith, 38, to find out more about discovering the next singing sensation…
Why did you want to join The Voice Kids?
"I just love children. My original life plan was to be a teacher. My mum was a primary school teacher and from the age of 14 until I was about 25 I did lots of voluntary work. So I’d either go into my mum’s school to help out or, as I was trained as a contemporary dancer, I’d hold dance workshops with kids who were deaf or blind. I worked with autistic children, too. My star sign is Cancer, which is the maternal sign, if you believe in all that stuff."
You were a coach on the main show in 2016. How does The Voice Kids compare?
"I prefer it. I’m having the time of my life. I feel like the main show gave me a lot of anxiety but this just gives me pure joy. It’s so uplifting and you genuinely feel like you’re helping these kids. This show allows you to see with your own eyes how growing up and becoming an adult gives us inhibition and self-doubt…"
What do you mean?
"As kids, we had a purity and our talents could really shine then, in adulthood, people would beat us around the head with their own issues. I feel like these kids just come in with this pure talent that really knocks the spots off any of us coaches. You just want to bottle it and drink it. They are infinitely more talented than us… and we’re probably more immature!"
With so much talent to choose from, are you sad you can’t turn your chair for every singer?
"I am but they take it really well so, in that sense, they’re even more evolved as adults where, if they don’t get a turn, they’re like: ‘Well, thanks for this opportunity anyway, I’m just happy to be here.’ I’m thinking: ‘I wish I could be more like that.’ I’m learning more from these kids than I do from adults. There’s one kid that I really, really regret not turning for but you have to follow your gut."
Have the other coaches been welcoming? And is it competitive on the panel?
"Oh, Danny, Pixie and will.i.am have been so nice. It’s just good vibes here and there’s no competition, we’re all just so happy for the children. We’re all in agreement that they’re all brilliant and really brave – I wouldn’t have done something like this when I was their age. Although, I look at pictures of me dancing when I was a kid and I was so good… then I trained and I was rubbish! These kids aren't competitive either. At my kid’s school they don’t have winners, they have the first winner, the second winner and so on. Everyone’s a winner! And, similarly, the kids here are just enjoying the experience."
Do you think it’s important to teach these kids about rejection, though, especially in showbusiness?
"Yeah, but we keep telling them that: ‘It’s not rejection, it’s just not today’. They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them. It’s meant to be a fun experience, whatever stage of the competition you get to, it’s not supposed to be a defining moment for any of them. I wouldn’t do a show that was putting pressure on kids."
Have you had to comfort any of these kids if they’ve cried during the blind auditions?
"That has happened but I feel like it’s about not patronising them, it’s more just saying: ‘Take a breath, you’re brilliant’. It’s about encouragement, it’s not about drawing attention to failure because kids are really aware of embarrassment and stuff, probably as much as adults would be."
Do you think you might struggle when it comes to whittling your team down for the battle rounds, then the final, which looks likely to air later this year?
"I’m actually more annoyed with myself for not just choosing one really good singer, so that I can say: ‘It’s definitely that one’! It’s really hard, there are so many good ones. How do I make the choice? I just consider who’s going to get the most out of this show… or whoever’s mum or dad gives you the cash! Ha, ha! Just kidding."
The Voice Kids, featuring Paloma Faith, returns Saturday July 11 at 7.25pm on ITV.
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