The Voice star Jake Shakeshaft and his rise to fame from Burslem pub to TV millions


When a Newcastle-under-Lyme teenager sang at a Burslem pub open mic night, he could not have imagined it would change his life forever.

Nineteen-year-old Jake Shakeshaft sang a cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ at The Leopard pub last year.

But he had no idea that scouts from BBC’s competition “The Voice” were attending.

Soon after, they told him to apply for the TV singing contest,  judged by legendary performers Tom Jones, Rita Ora, Will.i.Am and Kaiser Chief’s Ricky Wilson.

Jake, of Hereford Avenue, Clayton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, gained thousands of followers on Twitter overnight after his first audition on The Voice was shown on TV in January.

After singing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’, three of the four judges turned around for Jake wanting him as part of their team, but he chose Will.i.Am to be his mentor.

He didn’t look back and has now progressed in the competition to being only one round away from the live shows.

Jake told StaffsLive: “I still haven’t come to terms with all the attention yet, it’s really strange.

“It’s nice getting recognised out and about and as it’s a career for me, it’s really good that people recognise you for doing something you love.

“Being the only person from Stoke-on-Trent to get as far as I have in the competition, it’s really weird to think that.

“I could have easily just performed at the open mic night and then gone home afterwards and still be doing gigs upon gigs upon gigs in Newcastle-under-Lyme but I ended up going on the Voice being viewed by quite a lot of people.”

Jake admitted he didn’t have much hope that any judges would turn around for him after getting tonsillitis five days before the audition.

“I was constantly on loads of medication and these things called vocal zones which were an absolute godsend.

“I kept singing a little snippet of the song in the days leading up and for the first couple of days literally nothing came out at all.

“But as it got a little bit closer then notes started to come out and I thought I could just about do the song.

“We had a couple of run-throughs with the vocal coach and even five minutes before I went on stage my voice wasn’t hitting certain notes so I was fearing for the worst but I got through it and was happy with it.”

Jake Shakeshaft with his dad George

Jake and dad George

George Shakeshaft, Jake’s dad, juggles his day-to-day job as a paramedic with being his son’s agent.

And Jake, who used to work at Trentham Gardens, paid tribute to all the support he has received.

“It’s great to have the support of my family and friends alongside me.

“My dad puts a lot of effort in getting me gigs and working really hard in making sure I succeed.

“Not every parent in the world would be too happy when their son leaves college to pursue a career in music, but they were very supportive about it.

“I studied Music Technology at Newcastle-under-Lyme College and they were great about it as well.

“I left on really good terms and got on really well with the tutors, it was a great course.”

Jake explained how it was only in the past couple of years that he realised he wanted to be a musician.

“In all honesty I haven’t always wanted to be a singer but I’ve always just sang for fun.

“When I was a kid I wanted to be a footballer and as I got a little bit older I wanted to be a paramedic.

“It was really only in my first year of college when I was 16 that I decided I probably had more chance of being a musician than I had of being a paramedic.

“I picked up a guitar and learned how to play and within nine months or so I had performed my first gig in public.”


(Additional reporting by Ciara Lawn)


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