Do­ing it for the kids

Tough love doesn’t have to be scary, The Voice Kids coach Mel B tells Holly Byrnes

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S been al­most two decades since Me­lanie Brown told the world what she re­ally, re­ally wants. Storm­ing the pop charts as part of girl band phe­nom­e­non the Spice Girls, the then 20- year- old knew ex­actly who she wanted to be: the brash, ballsy, bold one, tak­ing no pris­on­ers in tiger prints with a wild mane of hair to match.

Rein­vented as a re­al­ity TV judge, Scary Spice stayed true to her stage form as the no- fil­ter, all- fire pan­el­list who knew what she liked, what she didn’t, and wasn’t afraid to tell us.

So when an ugly court case be­tween her for­mer Chan­nel Seven

X Fac­tor bosses forced her to can­cel plans to be part of Nine’s re­boot of Aus­tralia’s Got Talent and, as a con­so­la­tion, find a new gig as a coach on The Voice Kids, the in­dus­try won­dered out loud how suit­able Scary was for such a PG plat­form and its vul­ner­a­ble young artists.

The fierce York­shire woman curls her lip, turns up her nose and is hav­ing none of it.

“No, I’m just hon­est no mat­ter what I’m judg­ing or what panel I’m on,” she says.

“Kids more so than any­one ap­pre­ci­ate it if you’re re­ally hon­est with them. You know, they’re tough as houses these kids and they’ve got so much con­fi­dence. There’s not a lot of stress or emo­tion, they’re just kids who love do­ing what they’re do­ing.”

Asked about that court case, Brown dis­tances her­self from the in­tri­ca­cies.

“I wasn’t here, I was in Amer­ica but I came out of it do­ing the kids’ Voice, which I love,” she laughs.

“I don’t know the com­plete ins and outs of that [ court bat­tle] … I was just there and I’m glad I’m here. What else do you say about it?

“It’s not been awk­ward for me. It was be­tween them, not me. They fig­ured it out, I guess.”

Brown is still not averse to get­ting her claws out, but she’s also a mother of three daugh­ters, who says she

keeps it just as real with them as she does on The Voice Kids.

The Voice Kids’ pro­duc­ers took a lot of the pain out of the process for the coaches – only the best of the 8000 child singers who ap­plied made it onto the stage.

Brown says those kids all re­ally de­serve to be there.

“We’re not talk­ing about stageschool kids here, we’re talk­ing about reg­u­lar kids. Maybe their par­ents have heard them sing around the house once or twice and they thought, ‘ Wow, let’s put them in for this show’.

“They are very un­af­fected, so from the get- go it means they are nat­u­rally tal­ented, not chas­ing nec­es­sar­ily fame or to be a star. They just hap­pen to be gifted.”

Any anx­i­ety about ex­pos­ing young talent to harsh crit­i­cism is mis­placed, Brown says, with ex­tra care taken to en­sure they’re guided in an age- ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­tion; or when they fal­ter, are sup­ported off the stage with kid gloves ( dur­ing the bat­tle rounds, elim­i­nated singers leave in pairs so as to share the dis­ap­point­ment).

Brown has tried to set real­is­tic goals for her team.

“One of my con­tes­tants is singing a love song, so I’m like, ‘ Ob­vi­ously you’re not in love, you haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­ing in love yet with your to- be part­ner’, so I set them goals to think about what they re­ally want by the time they’re 21. Is it a nice car? Is it house?

“I said: ‘ Think about that and the pas­sion for get­ting your No. 1 dream house.’ I work around the songs with them so they can ac­tu­ally con­nect with the song be­cause they can sing their lit­tle hearts out, it’s ridicu­lous.”

THE VOICE KIDS

Sun­day, 6.30pm, WIN

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