Listen: “The Voice” winner Ellie Drennan chats to Dan & Laura
A year ago, Ellie Drennan was a Central Coast schoolgirl who spent her weekends busking, gigging and recording the occasional cover song for Youtube.
Now that she’s won TV’s The Voice, she’ll probably never be that same girl again.
The 16-year-old today spoke to Hope 103.2’s breakfast presenters Dan and Laura, on the release of her debut album Close Your Eyes.
A Dream Birthed In Childhood
Ellie told Dan and Laura that it was a dream come true to launch her singing career so soon.
“I’ve always had a passion for music,” she said. “I started singing lessons when I was five and at the time I didn’t really understand…didn’t really know what I was actually doing.
“But I started performing when I was 12 because my teacher got me to sing in front of the school, and it kind of inspired me to keep performing.
“From there I went back to singing lessons and I had two singing teachers, [country singer] Gina Jeffreys and Danielle Kelleher. And I just started getting gigs and busking and kept going.”
Surviving The Pressures Of Fame
Ellie is now a seasoned performer who won a scholarship at Gina Jefferies singing school and has sung for a crowd of 70,000 at the Carols in the Domain.
That experience may explain why she comes across as being so grounded and relaxed in her radio and TV interviews.
However both she and her family were surprised that she had handled the pressure of reality TV so well.
“Mum and dad know that this is my dream and I think they’re just really proud of me for following it,” she said, “[but] I think they’re kind of shocked because I don’t think they thought that I could handle the show.
“I think I was kind of surprised that I did.”
In an interview with Channel 9’s A Current Affair, Ellie’s father Dave joked about their daughter’s newfound fame, saying “I think we’ve lost our names. I’m known as Ellie’s dad and this is known as Ellie’s mum.”
A Singer-Songwriter From The Age Of 10
Watch: A cover song recorded for Ellie’s Youtube channel in 2014.
Ellie has played the guitar since she was eight and wrote her first song as a child, about a friend who was killed in an accident. She wrote it to help deal with the pain of her loss.
“I didn’t really know how to share my emotions, but writing them down and singing them really helped me,” she said.
“I was only 10 at the time so I guess didn’t really understand what was happening, so writing the song really helped me get through it.
“That’s pretty much how I figured out that music is what I want to do. And it kind of inspired me to keep writing.”
Today she is inspired by singers like Adele, Katy Perry, Matt Corby and Angus & Julia Stone.
Lessons Learnt In The Pain of High School Bullying
Ellie was coached through The Voice by British pop singer Jessie J, who was impressed by the maturity of her young protégé.
That maturity that shines through in her debut single Ghost, which reached #6 on the iTunes singles chart. It’s a song she wrote herself about the feelings of loneliness and not belonging — hinting at the bullying she has experienced during her high school years.
She talked to A Current Affair about her bullying experience.
“I think there was a point where I realised that it was how I dealt with it, not really what people were saying to me, [that] was the problem,” she said.
“Because the people who love you… are the ones who are going to tell you the truth so they’re the ones you should listen to.”
Her coach Jessie J identified, having been through bullying in high school too.
Ellie’s mother Anissa Drennan told ACA that the experience helped her daughter to grow up and prepare her for what was ahead.
“She’s grown up a lot in 12 months, she’s really changed,” she said. “We could see a real maturity in her, and her ability to adapt to difficult situations and how she handled it.
“Even the decision to put her into The Voice came from how she had grown up from what had been going on at school, and how she’d managed with it.”
Dreams Of Being A Role Model
As the youngest ever winner, Ellie will no doubt need to draw on her maturity to handle the spotlight and admitted in an interview that she’s still got a lot to learn.
Already online “trolls” have attacked her on social media after her win but she told The Daily Mail that she steers clear of negative comments.
Having been bullied over her body shape, she understands what many young women go through and hopes to be a role model and an encouragement for her fans.
“I really want to be someone that can inspire girls to be proud of who they are,” she said.
Almost Too Young For The Prize She Won
Elilie’s debut album Close Your Eyes was recorded in the days following her Voice win and features studio versions of all the solo songs she performed during the competition.
They include covers of Sia’s hit Elastic Heart, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To You, Lana Del Ray’s Summertime Sadness, Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl, Lorde’s hit song Team, Lean On by Major Lazer, and The Mamas And The Papas hit California Dreamin’, sung Sia-style.
She also has a self-published EP of her own songs on iTunes and hopes that her Universal recording contract will lead to an album of her own originals.
In addition to her recording contract, Ellie’s Voice victory won her $100,000 in the bank and a new Ford Kuga — amusing considering she’s on her learner’s license and had only three hours driving experience at the time.