On Sunday evening viewers will see local talented girl Ailbhe Hession sing for the coaches in ‘blind’ auditions – the coaches will not be allowed to see any of the singers, only to hear them. The four coaches sit with their backs to the singer and so rely only on their ears when it comes to selecting a voice for their team. If they like what they hear, they press their buttons and turn their chairs around to face the singer. The coaches pick 12 singers each for their team who they will mentor. There will be five blind audition shows (first one aired last Sunday), which will be followed by singing battle rounds and then the live performance shows will begin on March 4th. The live shows will run for nine weeks, with the public helping to decide who stays in the competition. The final four contestants – one for each coach – will compete in the grand final for a recording contract with Universal Music.
Coaches are Sharon Corr, Bressie, Kian Egan and Brian Kennedy. Kathryn Thomas and Eoghan McDermot are the presenters of this brilliant talent show.
For the young Claregalway woman, winning the Coyote Factor was another significant step on a musical journey that she now hopes will see her pursue her love of singing and performing and make a great name for herself.
The competition which had been running since the autumn was extremely successful for the new venue and this was reflected in the crowds that attended each Thursday night.
The winner has been impressing music impresarios for many years, singing and writing songs and most recently in Galway, playing alongside Tom Pyne as a member of The Wave.
“I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. I sang in the school and in the choir and then on the piano at home. And then the GAF, which was the youth cafe on Francis Street, gave me a few gigs as well which was great as it got me into the gigging.”
So successful were the GAF concerts that the WHB funded the recording of a teen CD in Tuam’s Sun Street Studios and so her voice was consigned to disc for the first time.
And now gigging has become a part of her life. Just recently graduated with a degree in Music and English from UCD, Ailbhe entered the Coyote Factor for the exposure it would give her and for the fact that it represented a new departure for her as it meant leaving her beloved piano aside.
“I enjoyed this competition too because there was nowhere to hide. I’m so used to having the piano as a sort of crutch, it was great for me to get up there and belt out a song without it.
“It gives you great confidence because I was able to get up there and move about, and for that it was great,” she said, adding that the cheque for €10,000 was also a “significant motivator.”
Ailbhe is the daughter of Mike and Liz Hession, who are well known in drama and theatrical circles; her maternal grandmother Betty Whelan from Shanaglish was a classical singer who had her voice trained in Italy back in the 1930s.
The same Betty even went on to sing for seven cardinals in The Vatican, but she gave it all up and came back to Ireland and settled down. And it doesn’t end there – Ailbhe’s aunt is Noreen Whelan O’Toole, the Galway-based voice coach who possesses an unbelievable voice.
“Noreen has worked with many well-known singers on training their voices, so I’m availing of that now. It’s only in the recent past that I’ve decided to take care of my voice and have it trained.
Together with Tom Pyne, Ailbhe and the other members of The Wave have become staple figures on the Galway music scene, regularly playing in the Spanish Arch, The Quays, The Clayton and other venues, and now after her success in Coyote Factor, her inbox is sure to be full with offers. Her repertoire also extends to music for weddings and other occasions, so many brides and grooms walk down the aisle to the sound of the young songstress.
Her unique version of Summertime which she sang in the final at Coyotes last week wowed all the audience, but Ailbhe has a vast catalogue of her own songs that she was writing from her mid-teens onwards, and she hopes to use some of the prize fund to breathe new life into them, to dust them down and see if the airs and lyrics can be revitalised with her new mature sound.
She is also forming a four-piece to play chillout relaxing music.
We all wish Ailbhe the very best of luck and know that she will go far with her musical talent.