What it's like to...Star on TV's The Voice, with Wolverhampton's Megan Reece
With its signature spinning chairs and blind auditions, The Voice is the television talent show which prides itself on choosing singers based on the quality of their voice.
But how does it feel when you're the one singing your heart out to the backs of four judges waiting to see who, if anyone, will turn around?
For Megan Reece, a mother-of-four from Wolverhampton, it was a make or break moment.
"Walking out on stage was scary but I knew I had to get out there and have some faith in myself. If there was ever a time to believe in myself this was it," she says.
Confident Megan, who is also an accomplished artist, had been selected to audition for last year's series after being found by a talent scout during a studio singing session.
"I went for an audition and then it seemed to take a long time before the blind audition. On the day, I had to treat it like any other performance.
"I had nothing to lose from going out there and doing my best. It was about believing I could do it," she recalls.
As the 29-year-old began performing her version of Lianne La Havas' doo-wop hit What You Don't Do, the judges were clearly impressed.
But it was Paloma Faith and Boy George who hit their buzzers to spin their chairs around to see the singer – who was wearing a red and white polka dot dress – command the stage.
Both coaches then pulled out all the stops to lure the soul and blues vocalist to their team with the pair name-dropping as many stars as they could.
"I've sung with Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson. I know about soul music, that's my pitch," said Boy George.
"If we're going to go there, I've sung with Prince," Paloma replied and in the end she won.
Megan, who lives in Bushbury with her husband James and four young sons, chose to work with her because she felt the star suited her musical style.
She later admitted that Paloma, known for her retro style, was one of the two judges she had particularly wanted as a mentor. The other was Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am.
"I never really considered what would happen if I didn't get chosen. I went out there believing I could win them over but I was very pleased and relieved when they turned around," she reveals.
Despite impressing the Only Love Can Hurt Like This singer, Megan was knocked out of the show in the battle rounds after Paloma chose to take her opponent through to the next stage of the competition.
But Megan, who grew up listening to artists such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, only has good things to say about her time spent working alongside the 35-year-old, who she described as a very happy and talented performer.
"She was really fun to be around and she has a real energy. She's also very down to earth.
"I think she will be missed now she's no longer on the show because everybody liked her. I really enjoyed working with Paloma," she adds.
Since appearing on the show, Megan, who attended Heath Park High School in Wolverhampton, has performed in venues up and down the country. She has also been collaborating with city musician John Paul Haslam, known as JP.
Last autumn, she also set up new band Megan Reece & The Jive, which comprises Jack Regan on drums, Sophie Cole on keyboard and double bass player Daniel Gill.
They take pop songs from the past 40 years and twist them in their own swing style. Performances have included a show at The Saddlers Club in Walsall in September.
As a portrait artist, Megan has also found her skills in demand after her childhood hobby grew into a promising career.
She has painted some of her musical influences, such as a young Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and legendary rocker and lead guitarist for Guns N' Roses Slash.
Life-like portraits of superhero Batman and Walter White from hit TV show Breaking Bad are also included in her portfolio and her work includes gifts for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays.
Megan believes her art and music have benefited from her time on The Voice. "The Voice has definitely helped me, not just as a singer, but also in my day job as an artist.
"It's been great for me. It hasn't been just a nice experience or memory, it's given me a step up," she adds.
Megan, who is looking forward to watching the latest series of the show which has moved from BBC to ITV, says she would recommend anyone offered the chance to audition for The Voice to seize it with both hands.
"It's a huge opportunity. If you want something, you have to give it all you've got. It's important to have that self-belief. It's a great show and it really does give you a head start," she says.
Megan will be performing at Henry Tudor House in Shrewsbury on January 27.
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