April 18 2014 Latest news:
By CHRIS HILL
Monday, April 9, 2012
The dress had been chosen, the church was booked – but Norwich singer Bill Downs had to put his wedding plans on hold when his chance for music stardom beckoned on a TV talent show.
The 24-year-old from Sprowston sang for an audience of millions when the prime-time BBC1 show The Voice was aired on Saturday night.
His blind audition was heard by a judging panel comprising legendary Welsh crooner Tom Jones, pop star Jessie J, Black Eyed Peas supremo Will.I.Am and Danny O’Donoghue, the singer of Irish band, The Script.
When offered the chance to join Danny O’Donoghue’s team for the competition, the singer knew it was not as simple as saying “yes” – having already made the same commitment to his fiancée Sacha Cullum, who he was due to marry in the spring.
Fortunately for Bill, his wife-to-be said the opportunity to appear on the TV series would be the only acceptable reason for re-scheduling their big day.
Saturday’s show was filmed in January, and Bill said his growing army of fans would have to wait until the end of April to see how he progresses in the next phase of the competition – and what it meant for his wedding plans.
“You could say that everything is up in the air at the moment,” he said. “We have got to wait and see what happens, and play it by ear.
“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to have a shot at singing in front of those four people. It was a life-changing audition and you only get one chance to do it if you are very, very lucky. To say that I was not going to do it because of something which, in the end, is flexible, would have been crazy.
“It was a joint decision. It was not just me saying: ‘Yep, we are moving the wedding.’ Sacha has always been so supportive of me right from the get-go, and I need her to keep me grounded.”
The high school sweethearts have been together since Bill was 14.
Sacha, 23, who works as a mobile beauty therapist, said: “I have been thinking about what I want my wedding to be like for years and years, so everything was coming together very early. The first thing I bought was the dress and we had venues and the church booked, and a photographer, the bridesmaids were all sorted and we just needed to sort the suits out.
“But I was more than happy to change the plans. I have always encouraged him to go for everything and this is the biggest opportunity he has ever been given. It could be the opportunity to make his dreams come true, so there was no way I could let it pass him by.”
After winning plaudits for his soulful rendition of Plan B’s hit She Said, Bill hugged his fiancée and asked if they could postpone the wedding. Fortunately, she replied: “Only under these circumstances.”
During the performance, Danny O’Donoghue was the only judge to hit his button and turn his chair around to face the artist he wanted to coach.
Bill said: “I was over the moon that Danny chose me. He is an absolutely amazing musician and his style is quite similar to mine.
“He plays in a band, I play in a band and we’re both quite soulful.”
Bill, who plays with Norwich band The Tracks, took up guitar aged 11 when his neighbour started playing, but kept his talent to himself before playing in a band at Sprowston High’s leavers’ assembly when he was 16.
The singer was compared to Ed Sheeran by the landlord of the Dog House, on St Georges Street, where he made his first public performance and still plays regularly, including a packed-out gig on Sunday night.
The couple live in Sprowston and, tomorrow, Bill said he would be returning to his day job, caring for adults with learning disabilities.