YORK busker turned TV talent show star Beth McCarthy is getting used to being known as “Beth from The Voice”. She was at the Galtres Festival in North Yorkshire at the weekend with a group of friends and “everybody who walked past was ‘oh Beth from The Voice’,” she recalls.
“The Voice is basically my last name now, I might as well not have McCarthy. But it’s okay. It’s a good position to be in but I do get a bit of stick for it. I don’t really mind because it’s given me a lot of opportunities.”
Those include continuing help from Kaiser Chiefs frontman and The Voice mentor Ricky Wilson. “We’re still in touch which is really lovely because he’s stood by his word that his coaching wasn’t just on the show but carried on afterwards,” she explains.
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But Beth, whose stage career began in musical theatre with local groups at the age of seven, is confident that The Voice label won’t last forever. She knows it won’t because there’s a new series coming up and “so-and-so from The Voice will be replaced by a new so-and-so from The Voice”. The key, says this likeable and intelligent 17-year-old, is that Theatre once that tag disappears you’re still known.
“That’s what I’m working on,” says the singer-songwriter who combines studying at music college with gigging and busking.
Despite her TV exposure, she still busks around the city. “When I was on The Voice that was my way of being able to meet people who were watching and supporting me. I have Facebook and Twitter but it was nice to see the local faces. A lot of them felt I was representing their home town which was a big deal on a big BBC show. It was nice to go out and get a vibe of that. I still do it now just for the fun of it.”
Beth’s a confident, but not cocky, young singer driven by a desire to perform and who found music was her way of expressing that ambition. She gets the chance with three local appearances in coming months, beginning next week with a one night only appearance in the musical Rock Of Ages at the Grand Opera House.
That happened after a fellow Voice contestant invited her to the opening night of the tour in Manchester. She got talking to cast and crew and was invited to appear in the show. “I’m just coming on for the last number. It’s literally like a walk-on part.
They like to have as many people rocking on stage as they can,” she says.
“What I like about Rock Of Ages is that it’s in the middle of musical theatre and rock music. It’s my type of music, I grew up with rock because of my dad. I’ve always been a big Meatloaf and AC/DC kind of a fan.
Obviously I don’t play that myself. It doesn’t necessarily fit my voice and my vocal range isn’t really rock but I still love the music so I’m really excited being in a show with all the old classics.”
It’s not her first time on the Grand Opera House stage as she began her stage career at seven in local musical shows. She’ll be back there in October for the Rock Against Cancer fundraiser and is also booked for the first Music On Rails (MOR) festival at the National Railway Museum.
She’s continuing her studies at Accent To Music where staff have been really understanding about her gigging and time on BBC1’s The Voice. “It’s really the best place I can be because they’re teaching me what I need to know at all levels. So I’m going to finish my two-year course because I don’t like to start things and not finish them. And I really enjoy being there,” she says.
“I’m also gigging as much as I can. I was doing that before The Voice but a lot more opportunities have arisen since then.”
She applied for the TV show after hearing from a fellow singer who’d appeared on the show that it was an amazing experience. Beth didn’t think she had anything to lose by applying. She felt it was the right time for her.
“I was 16 and thought if there’s any time it’s not going to matter it’s now. I started performing really early and if I was going to get anywhere it probably wouldn’t be until my early twenties and by that time who’s going to care what I did when I was 16? It was only going to be positive so I thought I might as well go for it and get the experience.
“I got more from it because I went in there with no expectations. It wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m going to,win, I’m going to get somewhere’. I took every single step as it came which actually did me a lot of good. I was in the final 28 of the competition, the final seven of my team and 40,000 people applied.
“I’ve made so many friends and contacts, I’ve had vocal coaching, mentoring from Ricky and advice from Kylie Minogue and Tom Jones. It’s a one-off experience, there’s nothing like it.”
Rock Of Ages: York Grand Opera House, Tuesday to Saturday. Beth McCarthy’s walk-on appearance, Weds.
Box Office 0844-8713024 and atgtickets.com/York n Music On Rails (MOR) festival is at the National Rail Museum on Sept 6 from 3pm to midnight. nrm.org.uk n York Rocks Against Cancer: York Grand Opera House, Oct 11. 0844-8713024 and atgtickets.com/York