From the streets of Leeds to the stages of the world…
by Chloe McLaughlin
Last year a video went viral. It was of a talented young girl singing ‘Hallelujah’ alongside a busker on a night out in Leeds. The video gained thousands of views overnight and the girl was catapulted into the limelight. That girl was Jade Helliwell. Dubbed as the UK’s answer to Taylor Swift, Jade is a country superstar but despite her overnight rise to fame, Jade had been singing for a number of years:
“I was about nine years old when I started singing – doing karaoke on a family holiday to Torquay. I recorded a covers album when I was about ten or eleven in a little studio and started singing at the local rugby club as well as doing a charity tour.” Jade smiles when I catch up with her “I started doing the club circuit around Yorkshire and at 19 I taught myself how to play guitar and started writing songs”.
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Jade entered the country scene about three years ago but it was a viral video of her singing with a busker on a night out that saw her gain recognition – I wondered if she’d ever busked before then or if it was just an alcohol-fuelled, crazy adventure?
“I’d not done it before so definitely alcohol fuelled!” She laughs. “The closest I’d got was doing a gig in Leeds that was a street show with outside venues. It was a booked gig though. That night, I was fuelled by being out and having a couple of gins with my friends!”
So maybe gin is the answer to success?
“I’d been putting music out for two years and when the video was going viral one of my friends said to me ‘all these years you’ve been trying and the thing that is going to get you noticed is a drunken video!’ so apparently it’s good to drink gin and let it influence your decisions!”
At the time, Jade was working as a teaching assistant in a primary school and was taking time off to do radio and television interviews. However, on the back of her success, Jade finally decided to take the plunge and leave her job as a teaching assistant to focus solely on music.
“It had a massive impact on what I’m doing now. I’d been toying with the idea of leaving but I was a bit scared of not having the comfort of a solid wage. The video pushed me to take that step.”
Undoubtedly, the video going viral and the response by the public gave Jade a huge confidence boost.
“I’ve always had a bit of confidence as I started so young and you just don’t care as a child. You go for anything – so it was the norm for me to get up and sing. I think that’s why it doesn’t faze me. But the support of thousands definitely kicked me into thinking it could work out and to give it a go!”
Now, Jade is a globetrotting, country superstar and is very proud to be representing Leeds and Yorkshire on the world stage:
“I’m proud to be from Yorkshire. When I was young I used to try and tidy my accent a bit but now I’ve embraced and I’m proud to be from Yorkshire and Leeds and to have a Yorkshire accent. It’s nice to be representing where you’re from.”
Now Jade is the face of Firestone’s Road to Main Stage competition – a competition for unsigned artists which if they win see’s them win live dates, a van or a year, new equipment and money to record an album or EP.
“It’s a long term prize.” Jade smiles. “To enter you simply go to firestone.roadtothemainstage.co.uk and enter a bit about yourself. Send a link to your music and that’s it, you’ve entered!”
But what is Jade’s advice to young hopefuls?
“Go for it!” She grins. “Take any opportunities you can as you might regret not entering if you don’t. Use Facebook and type in your local area and open mic nights, start off with those. The power of the internet is huge! There’s Youtube tutorials, watch videos, get podcasts.”
Now, Jade is getting ready to head to Nashville before releasing some new music. In the mean time she’ll be promoting the Firestone Road to Main Stage competition.
Firestone is building on its long-standing commitment to grassroots music, giving talented up-and-coming artists the chance to compete in their Road to the Main Stage competition and win a life changing prize. Enter here: firestone.roadtothemainstage.co.uk