A former Wrexham student is hoping to find an international audience for her music after entering the German version of The Voice.
Helen Leahey, 29, was born in St Asaph and grew up in Cynwyd with her German mother and Liverpudlian father, who was also a musican himself.
After her father died, Helen and her mother moved to the United Arab Emirates for her mother’s work before then moving to Germany.
Helen said: “It’s been an amazing experience so far. I have quite a few performances under my belt over the years but nothing’s been quite as terrifying as that moment you step out onto that particular stage and are confronted with four chairs with their backs turned to you.
“There is such a stillness in the audience you could hear a pin drop… and then the music starts and you have to somehow get a sound out of your body. That was the biggest relief, that I could sing despite the nerves! I performed ‘Danny Boy’.
“What I didn’t realise about The Voice was the many castings I had to go through to be even allowed to sing in the blind auditions. I saw many great musicians come and go and felt honoured to make it this far.
“I think my unusually deep voice, particular style of singing and the fact I have such a passion for Celtic music opened many doors. I am quite a novelty in this year’s show.”
Helen says that she’s proud of her Welsh heritage and history and says her rendition of ‘Sosban Fach’ always goes down well abroad.
After living with her mum until age 16, she returned to North Wales to study in Wrexham.
She then returned to the continent to be with her family and currently works with refugees.
She said: “I went back to Wrexham mainly due to homesickness and attended Yale College.
“After that I studied at the University of Liverpool and then did a Masters in International Journalism in Cornwall.
“I returned to Germany to be closer to my mother and became involved with refugee work which I still do.
“That’s the day job. At night I play my music in the local area and have also toured Germany and neighbouring countries too.
“I play mainly Celtic folk and my own songs. I went to a Welsh speaking primary in Cynwyd and I think that was a big influence in developing a passion for the culture and music of the Celtic countries.
“We learnt all about the history of the British Isles and Ireland and were very involved with the Eisteddfod which got me used to performing from an early age.
“My mother was doing her PhD about Celtic folklore and I grew up hearing my dad playing many Irish traditional tunes. He was a brilliant guitarist.
“I got involved with the Irish music scene (especially in the Irish Centre) while studying in Liverpool and really honed my musical skills.
“I play guitar, Irish bouzouki and the Bodhrán and write my own material, which is on my website helenleahey.com.
“I want to tour Wales in the future, I’m itching to sing Sospan Fach to a home audience. It goes down great on the continent.”
Speaking of The Voice, Helen added: “My family and friends are incredibly supportive. They have been telling me for a long time to try something like this. It took some years and life experiences to muster up the courage but now I feel I am ready to take to the bigger stage.
“One thing is for sure, perhaps in the past I looked somewhat critically at TV talent shows.
“Now I know it takes a lot of guts to get up there and present yourself in that way. If someone asked me whether I would do it again I am not sure how I’d answer – but I’am sure glad that I did do it.
“I’m very excited to see what will happen in the show next.”