Exciting West Endmoment is coming up for Jai McDowall
THERE is a first for Ayrshire 2011 Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall on Friday when he makes his debut in Elgin.
The 33-year-old’s career has been busy in the years since winning the TV talent show, performing at the Royal Variety Performance, on China’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent: The Campions, Mad About The Musicals, and Les Musicals with Jonathan Ansell – which he will be repeating this year.
“I’ve been all over the country lately – so I can’t complain, it’s a job I love!” said Jai.
Jai is also lined up to duet with Susan Boyle and open her upcoming tour. And he is also excited about appearing in his West End debut in a charity gala performance of The Pirate Queen at the London Coliseum.
For Friday’s Elgin date, Jai will be hooking up again with his friend and regular accompanist Ryan McKenzie from Buckie at the piano. The two have worked together in Glasgow and London and Jai decided to come up to sing in Elgin. His set will include musical theatre classics, country hits, ballads, a couple of BGT songs, including the one he recently got a standing ovation for from the judges on The Champions show. Plus he will perform originals and his favourite Burns’ song – My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose, he revealed.
“I’ll be singing Lady Gaga's hit from A Star is Born, I'll Never Love Again – the one I sang on Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions. In fact, I think it will be the first time I’ve sung it since I sang it on TV!”
Looking back on his lifelong dream to be a singer, Jai explained that both singing from the age of 14 or 15 with his dad – who is also a singer – plus a love for musical theatre performed with two local amateur clubs, was a good start.
"I had to learn a whole array of music and it is really good for this job I do now. Years ago I would sing pretty much anything with my dad who is still going and singing for four hours a night. I’ve got a lot of respect for my dad, he is phenomenal. He is definitely my hero. I’m lucky that I can turn my hand to anything, the musical stuff as well. I love singing that stuff, it’s brilliant.
"I had to learn a whole array of music and it is really good for this job I do now. Years ago I would sing pretty much anything with my dad who is still going and singing for four hours a night.
"I’ve got a lot of respect for my dad, he is phenomenal. He is definitely my hero. I’m lucky that I can turn my hand to anything, the musical stuff as well. But I love singing it, it’s brilliant."
Jai's time appearing in musicals at local amateur club productions impacted in a strange way on his important Britain's Got Talent audition.
In fact, his mum has never forgiven him.
Jai explained: "I had played Anatoly the Russion in Chess – so that is where my audition song Anthem came from.
"I played Danny Kilmartin in Calamity Jane which was fun.
"But just before the BGT audition, I had been playing Metel the tailor in Fiddler On The Roof and I decided to dye my air black and have a perm to be in character!
"That is why I had a skinhead on BGT because the audition literally came in about a week and a half after that show.
"My mum was gutted and she said 'You look like a thug!’, but the photos are funny!"
Jai was successful in 2011’s Britain’s Got Talent, though things didn’t work out quite as he had hoped afterwards. But his career has flourished.
He said: “Last year when I did BGT: The Champions, it was good to go back and see Simon Cowell and get to speak to him and shake his hand and thank him for everything because I haven’t had the chance before.
“I’m enjoying what I am doing and there are no big black clouds. It’s all definitely been a positive experience.”
Last year Jai joined forces with G4 frontman Jonathan Ansell – G4 had been discovered when they came second on X Factor in 2004 – for a tour, Ansell’s Les Musicals.
Jai will once again this year be part of it when it presents West End and Broadway songs in UK theatres in May and June. He enjoyed working with Jonathan.
"He sort of understands the ups and downs of the industry. It’s like any job, you get your work coming in thick and fast and then sometimes it can be pretty slow and we both prefer to be on the go. I’ve got itchy feet.
"If I’m not gigging and I’ve got time off, I’ll try and travel. And it’s been nice to learn from all his experiences, just to know I’m not the only one going through it.
"It’s been good for both of us. I think it is 15 years he has been in the industry and it’s coming up on nine for me in June."
Tickets £25 are available for Friday’s Elgin Town Hall gig on January 31 at: www.elgintownhall.co.uk (booking fee) or IT Central, 37 South Street, Elgin. Full interview: www.whatson-north.co.uk