MUM of The Voice singer Sophie Griffin has told the MAIL how she always knew her daughter would become a star - from the age of 7!
In her first interview Caroline Griffin from Ardboe describes how proud she is of the 17 year-old who took the BBC1 show’s stage by storm on Sunday night to gain a coveted spot in the live shows of the hit singing competition.
And the mother-of-three brushed off criticism from Sophie’s fellow contestant J Marie Cooper, who the talented teen beat to make it through to the next stage of the TV programme, watched by almost 12 million people at the weekend.
The St Pius X College student battled it out with the flame-haired 27 year-old in a duet of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’.
Her part in the breath-taking performance bowled over judges Jessie J and mentor Will.i.am who described how he saw a glimmer of his 17 year-old self in the Ardboe teenager.
The Black Eyed Peas artist picked the Loughshore girl to go through to the BBC1 live shows which will see the public voting to keep their favourite contestants in the competition.
“I am just so happy for her because she has always wanted this, from no age,” Mum Caroline told the MAIL.
“She’s rehearsing now and she loves Will.i.am. He is just brilliant...so down to earth and so funny. I was speaking to Sophie last night and I was saying to her that my favourite line from the show was when Will.I.Am said to her; ‘Don’t be afraid little Soph’s’ and playfully hits her.
“He’s just so good and she’s having a whale of a time. What other 17 year-old gets to sing in front of Will.i.am?”
Caroline continued: “The production team at The Voice have just been absolutely fantastic.”
“They have looked after her and told us if there are any problems to just pick up the phone. She does have the best care and is being looked after so well.”
“They asked me if I was going to miss her, and I do, but it is what she wants and if she is happy then I am happy.”
Sophie got her big break in The Voice UK after her mum spotted an ad in a newspaper looking for contestants for the show.
It was just months after the 17 year-old was rejected from The X-Factor after getting down to the final 35.
“She was gutted at the time but it just made her more determined,” says Caroline.
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“She got four yes’s in the X-Factor and Gary Barlow said to her on-stage that she would be one-to-watch.
“But she still got kicked out and never got a chance to sing. The Voice is totally different.”
“The first time her blind audition came on the TV she got really emotional, and it just hit her then that this has happened and she’d done it.
Caroline described how she realised Sophie was immensely talented when she was just in primary school.
“She did a ‘Stars in Your Eyes’ competition at Holy Trinity. The school visited various primary’s and chose kids to sing in the show.
“She was really small and sung ‘My Boy Lollipop’ and won, then I sort of knew. She was just a natural.”
Sophie, who is the middle child in her family with an older and younger sister, is now the only Northern Ireland hopeful left in the competition after Derry’s Ben Kelly and Jessica Hammond from Belfast were knocked out on Saturday night.
“Everyone who has been working with her has said how professional she has been for such a young age,” adds Caroline.
“She’s been praised so much and I would advise anyone to go for The Voice because of just how well Sophie has been so well looked after.”
“Sophie goes first thing in the morning to rehearsals and she’s home quite late at night, but she just loves it, she loves rehearsing, she loves the show and she loves the contestants. It’s all about singing.”
Mum Caroline also brushed off criticism from those who slated the 17 year-old for beating her fellow ‘Team Will’ contestant J Marie Cooper in the show’s sing off on Saturday night. Coach Will and judge Jessie J said Sophie had more chance to progress in the competition than the 27 year-old singer. J Marie has since hit back at the decision and accused the BBC of being ‘ageist’.
“Sophie’s like me, those things don’t bother her,” said the devoted mum.
“There will be good comments and bad comments, J Marie is fantastic, who can’t fault her and she wasn’t really slagging Sophie off, I think it’s just about her age.”
On Saturday the Griffin family will fly over to watch Sophie’s first live performance on the prime-time show.
“I will be a nervous wreck on the night,” admits the mum.
“In the battle rounds I couldn’t go in, during the blind auditions I got myself in a state and I wasn’t going to go in but I did, nerves take over. I’ll be alright now, but on Saturday...”
The mum of three has ordered posters and banners to take along to the show and with a packed out Ardboe hall on Saturday night where the show will be played out on the big screen the 17 year-old won’t be short of support.
“Our community, friends, family, neighbours have been fantastic, there are banners up all over Ardboe. Everyone is so proud. Let’s hope as many people as possible get behind her on Saturday night!”