IT WAS an emotional night on The Voice Of Ireland tonight as an Inishowen native became the third contestant from Donegal to make it to the next stage of the RTÉ talent competition.
Two mentors turned their chairs for Mark McLaughlin during his performance of the Tom Petty hit Free Fallin’ in what was an emotionally charged performace by the Carndonagh man not long after the sad passing of his father John Anthony ‘Joe Billy’ aged 84.
The 38-year-old had never participated in any type of talent show, never mind televised, and only for the encouragement of his mother Mary B., wouldn’t have stood on the blind audition stage for The Voice so soon after his father’s death.
“I had real reservations about going onto the show, but Mum wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer. She told me to say his name to myself and let it all out,” said Mark.
The emotions that Mark was going through at the time certainly came through in his performance and by the end of the song he had two judges to choose from, Kian Egan and Sharon Corr.
“She said a few things that struck a chord with me, one being that her mother was originally from Donegal and generally she just said the right things to me that struck a chord and I felt she would be the right mentor for me,” he said.
Mark, who has been gigging around the North West for the past few years from, McGinleys in Letterkenny to McGrory’s in Culdaff said he wanted to take his time on the show to showcase the county.
“I originally applied for the programme as I thought, as many do, I could do that, but now I think there’s a bigger picture and this will give me a chance to promote our beautiful county,” he said.
Mark is now the third contestant from Donegal to make it through to the battle stages of this year’s series.
Last weekend Shane McLaughlin (28) from Downings was chosen by Mentor, Kian Egan, after performing the Frames song Fake in what was the most viewed episode of The Voice ever with 729, 000 viewers tuning into the show.
Shane is well-known in Donegal music circles as the lead singer of the band Red Light Inferno.
The Downings man admitted it was a last minute decision for him to apply for The Voice.
“As I was in a band I never thought of auditioning for shows like this, but with some of the lads emigrating to Canada and the band parting ways I decided to go for it.”
Shane and his band Red Light Inferno have come close to success on a number of occasions over the years, but never quite got there.
He decided with the band coming to an end he would give it one last stab and to his relief it paid off when former Westlife star Egan turned his chair to choose Shane.
Being one of four siblings, the son of Denis and Mary McLaughlin has a lot of family support and no doubt everyone in his native Downings will be getting behind him.
“There has been a bit of buzz about the area since the show went out last week,” he laughed, “I’ve been receiving a lot of messages from well-wishers and it’s great to have the support.”
The first Donegal contestant to make it through to the battle stages was Roisin Carlin from Fahan.
The daughter of Brendan and Catherine Carlin was the first to have all judges on the talent competition turn their chairs in a bid to get her as one of their contestants.
In the end Roisin chose the show’s brand new judge, Brummie ‘Superstar’ Jamelia as her mentor and will now have to impress her in the upcoming battles, the next stage of the competition.
Roisin impressed the judges with her unique version of Justin Bieber’s hit Boyfriend which she incidentally also sang when she represented Derry at this year’s Mary From Dungloe International Festival.
Roisin, Shane and Mark will now take to the stage during the upcoming battles, which commence on February 17, in a bid to become a final member in their respective mentors’ teams for the live shows of The Voice of Ireland.
Tune into The Voice of Ireland every Sunday at 6.30pm only on RTÉ One.