Jessie J on The Voice Kids and surviving fame

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For most people, sitting in a big red chair on TV means you’re about to be tipped backwards by Graham Norton. 

For Jessie J, however, it’s the chance to potentially make a significant difference to the career of an aspiring young singer. 

She is one of four coaches on the current series of ITV’s The Voice Kids, which is airing seven years after she first appeared on its sister show The Voice UK. Jessie sits on the panel alongside Pixie Lott, Danny Jones and Will.I.Am, in a contest where all the competitors are aged seven to 14.

But its third series comes at a time when questions are being raised about how TV contestants are cared for, after the recent deaths of former participants of Love Island and The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Given how young the show’s hopefuls are and the size of the audience (over three million viewers a week), The Voice Kids gives children a public platform which could bring them a level of instant fame they’re unprepared for.

“I’m actually very protective,” Jessie, whose real name is Jessica Cornish, tells BBC News. 

“Kids that young need to be protected. And they’re going to create these kinds of shows, whether I’m involved or not, right? But I want to be as involved as I can be, because I love to be able to have some sort of responsibility with what they’re learning and what they’re seeing. 

Danny Jones, Jessie J, Pixie Lott, Will.I.Am
Image captionThe Voice Kids coaches are Danny Jones, Jessie J, Pixie Lott and Will.I.Am

“I made a point of sitting with the producers and the heads of ITV and The Voice Kids, and getting to know everybody – the team, the crew, the chaperones, the parents… and everybody is very, very qualified to look after children.”

Notably, the prize on The Voice Kids isn’t a record deal. Instead, the winning child receives a £30,000 bursary towards their musical education – and a holiday to Orlando.

The focus on music rather than fame means “there’s a different energy,” Jessie argues. “And everybody at The Voice Kids loves and appreciates children and supporting them and being there for them emotionally.”

Jessie may be in a judging role for the show, but just last year she was competing on a talent show as a contestant.

In early 2018, she won a Chinese TV show called Singer which sees established stars, rather than members of the public, compete. The huge exposure brought Jessie to a sizeable new audience in Asia.

“The show finished in April, and I did an 11-date arena tour in September. So that was a huge achievement,” she says. “I felt really lucky to bridge the gap between English culture and Chinese culture and to let them see the side of us that they don’t see.

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