Patrick James is proving he’s got the voice to succeed

Dealing with weight and sexuality were the easy bits. Now Patrick James aims to show he can sustain a career in the music business after his TV talent show success, writes Ed Power.

Patrick James is proving he’s got the voice to succeed

EVEN by the underdog-adoring metrics of reality television, Voice of Ireland winner Patrick James is an unlikely star-in-the-making. Prior to entering the RTÉ talent show he had never performed live.

He was overweight — still taboo in an industry where looks count for as much than artistic virtuosity. Since childhood he’s been dogged by low-self esteem. Were he to rock up at X Factor auditions, Simon Cowell would probably shake his head and sigh.

“I’m not a conventional pop star,” nods the 24-year-old, who has dropped his second name, Donoghue, on the premise that ‘Patrick James’ sounds like the moniker a pop star might have. “That’s why I entered The Voice. It’s about your singing, not your appearance. It was important I wasn’t judged by my weight.”

The 24-year-old is also a realist. He understands the track record of Voice of Ireland winners is not stellar. For the majority, their triumph represents a minor leg-up — nothing more. Many are still playing the pub and regional club circuit where they started. Their 15 minutes of fame has turned out to be closer to 15 seconds.

“It is something that definitely plays on my mind,” says James, who was coached on The Voice by Saturdays singer Una Foden and aspires to be Ireland’s answer to Sam Smith. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. On the other hand, previous winners ARE successful in a way. They’re gigging, they are working in music. If that is what it came to, I’d be happy.”

James has just released a debut single, a cover of Josh Osho’s ‘Redemption Days’. At time of writing, the track is on course to reach the top 20. A great deal rides on it breaking through.

“If it doesn’t do well there is every possibility I won’t have a future,” he says.”I appreciate that. I know my future with Universal depends on it performing well. The feedback is positive. Some radio stations are sniffy about Voice of Ireland winners and won’t at co-operate. Most are very supportive.”

The business is, he reports, far less glamorous than advertised. “It’s hard work — I was in Galway yesterday. Today I’m going to Longford to do radio. I’m not complaining. If was I asked I’d stand out in the traffic. Whatever is required.”

Still, he hasn’t quite given up the day job. James is on leave from Dunnes Stores, with the understanding he can return should his dreams of stardom come to naught.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world. I went from having never done a gig in my life to being the winner of The Voice.

“The thing about this industry is that you don’t know where you are going to be tomorrow. I’d like to have chart-topping success. If it doesn’t work out… well at least I know I’ve given it my all. In music, you should not take anything for granted. I’m certainly not.”

He has been on the receiving end of some negativity on social media, mostly relating to his weight. On The Voice, James was undeniably hefty. He has since shed two and a half stone and is determined to lose more.

“Extra weight makes you self-conscious,” he says.”It is something I’ve had trouble with my whole life. I’ve been on a diet and am making positive changes.”

Early during the filming of The Voice, the producers asked James if he wanted to be public about being gay. Out since his teens, he didn’t have to think about it.

“My parents were very supportive of me coming out,” he says. “Being openly gay has never been an issue for me. It’s amazing how far this country has come. Of course, I understand not everyone finds it as easy. If my being out helps someone watching at home [come to terms with their sexuality]... that would mean more than anything to me.”

‘Redemption Days’ is out now

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