Boy George has sent Sunderland singer Melissa Cavanagh through to the next round of The Voice.
The 25-year-old from Ashbrooke wowed the Culture Club frontman with a rendition of Blame by Calvin Harris featuring John Newman.
After five years of trying to get on the BBC1 show, Melissa made it through to the blind audition stage to sing for coaches Boy George, Will.i.am, Paloma Faith and Ricky Wilson.
Boy George, who is new to the show this series, turned his chair meaning the former Thornhill School pupil will go through to The Battles round where she will be pitted against another of his acts.
“I never thought I’d make it through to the Blind Audition, so to make it through to The Battles is amazing,” said Melissa who watched tonight’s show at her local pub, The Rosedene.
“The Battles is actually my favourite round. And to be put through by someone like Boy George is mad. I’ve always known of him and respected him as a musician. A lot of my knowledge of him comes from his musical, Taboo, as I’m a big musical theatre fan.”
I never thought I’d make it through to the Blind Audition, so to make it through to The Battles is amazing.Melissa Cavanagh
Melissa, who filmed the audition back in September, was inspired to enter the show after a cancer battle spurred her into chasing her dreams.
Aged 13, she underwent an eight-month course of chemotherapy after doctors discovered she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And beating the disease made her appreciate the opportunities life throws at her even more.
Over the years, Melissa has appeared in the Echo many times for her fight against cancer, as well as for her performances at venues including Sunderland Empire.
Today, she juggles her job at a claims management company with performing in amateur musical theatre productions, and singing at charity concerts to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Melissa’s friends and family were by her side at the Rosedene as she hit the small screen - and as the cameras captured the moment she got her shot at the big time.
Mum Patricia Bell, 53, brother Jamie Bell, 30, aunt Doreen Tate, 54, and college friends had accompanied her to the studios when she performed for the hit TV show’s new panel.
“It’s been great,” said Jamie, a receptionist who works in the cardiology unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
He added: “I’m not someone who’s got her confidence to get up on stage, but it’s great to have someone in the family who can and we’re all so proud of her.
“I was more nervous than Melissa. We met Emma Willis, before they started filming she came in and asked who we all were and she was really friendly.
“Mam’s like me, she’s not an outgoing person but so proud of Melissa and we’ve loved being part of the supporting cast.
“Now I can’t wait until the first person recognises her and says ‘Was that you on The Voice?”
Melissa added: “They have been my rock, I couldn’t have done it without their support.”