By Damian Dolan
A London-based singer-songwriter from Cork, who plays Gaelic football for Fr Murphy’s Ladies, had The Voice UK’s judges fighting over her on Saturday night.
Elly O’Keeffe, a 31-year-old musician from Knocknagree wowed the judges and studio audience with her rendition of Leon Bridges’ song River.
Tom Jones, Olly Murs and Meghan Trainor turned their chairs for Elly.
It was Tom that the Fr Murphy’s Gaelic footballer decided to choose as her mentor on the ITV show, describing herself as “old school”.
The legendary singer praised Elly’s “wonderful style”.
“I’ve been singing all my life – it’s who I am. It’s bigger than me,” Elly told Tom Jones.
Elly took to Facebook on Sunday evening to say thank you for the huge level of support she’s received.
She posted: “I can’t begin to express how privileged I feel to have such an amazing group of people around me. The messages, comments, well wishes, I mean… I can’t cope! It’s all so surreal. Thank you from the bottom of my heart everyone.”
Fr Murphy’s tweeted: “Sheer perfection plays for Fr Murphy’s from Cork and turns judges like she turns full backs. Well done Elly.”
Elly, who teaches music at St Raphael’s Catholic Primary School in Northolt, west London, moved to London in 2014 to pursue her music career.
— the Irish World (@theirishworld) January 26, 2020
Elly has been a regular on the London pub circuit for the last five years, building up a solid fanbase, while writing her own music.
An established solo artist, backing herself on the guitar and piano, Elly also performs with well-known London band Contraband.
From a musical family, Elly began performing at a very young age, singing in venues across Ireland with her family band. She first began writing her own material in 2006.
Elly’s parents and sister Joanne were there to watch her performance on The Voice.
She released her debut album, entitled When We Live in July 2014. Described as an “utterly convincing achievement” by the Cork Examiner, the collection of songs showed off Elly’s ability to “perform with genuine heart and an assured individuality”.
One reviewer said Elly’s music “touches your soul” and called her a “specialist in her craft”.
She released a new EP in 2019 called ‘Stay’, telling Irish music website Musician.ie that life in London had been “tough but rewarding”.
“Been through a lot here but then again following an independent music career is tough and so is London town,” she said.
“But I’ve learned so much already and I have a lot more experience now in what I aim to do with my career,”.
Elly wasn’t the only Irish performer on last Saturday’s show to impress the judges.
Brian Corbett, a 29-year-old Connemara bartender from Galway had the judges raving over his performance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Give Me Love’. But it was Olly Murs who turned around.
Brian started playing the guitar when he was 11 and grew up playing traditional Irish instruments and singing with his family.
He’ll be joined on Team Olly by another Irish singer, Cat Cavelli.
Cat, also 29, moved to London when she was 18 from Ardcroney in Tipperary to further her music career, but gave up singing to raise her daughter Ada, who she shares with actor Jude Law.
She impressed both Olly and Will.I.Am with her version of I Put a Spell on You by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins, but it was Olly’s team she chose to join.