Sonia finding her own voice
After co-hosting last year, Sonia Kruger is going solo this year. She speaks with GUY DAVIS about presenting the hit show.
think Joel Benji are quite dependent.” That’s the thing about Sonia Kruger: she can always be counted on to tell it like it is. (In this case, she’s discussing the relationship between rock-star brothers Joel and Benji Madden. But more about that in a moment.)
Kruger is, of course, one of Nine’s go-to stars, effortlessly making herself at home in any number of formats the network offers up. She has co-hosted Nine’s Mornings program with David Campbell since 2012, and fronted the network’s reboot of Big Brother.
Last year, she joined Darren McMullen as a co-host of the popular singing competition The Voice. And in 2016, with McMullen jumping ship to present Seven’s upcoming game show The Big Music Quiz, she’s stepping up as solo host.
“It’s fine!” she laughed when asked if losing a cohost had doubled her duties.
“I now get to go through more of the process with the artists – I see them at the beginning, I see them after the performance, I’m kind of there with them the whole time, whereas previously Darren and I split those duties.
“I miss Darren; he was great to work with. But I feel like I’m more immersed in The Voice this year.”
Kruger’s role on The Voice when she joined last year and co- was to help connect the show’s audience with the friends and family members watching an artist’s performance on stage.
“With the Blind Auditions, we had the artists and their families in the holding room, where I would have a chat with them before they went onstage,” she says.
“When the artist is performing, I’m in the viewing room with their family and friends, with our fingers crossed that a coach’s chair turns for them. And then I’ll wait backstage when they meet up with their families again.”
It’s an experience that was sometimes celebratory. And sometimes it was the opposite.
“Something that dawned on me when I first did The Voice was that it’s amazing when someone gets through – it’s exciting and it’s fun – but it doesn’t always happen,” Kruger says.
But that’s show business for you. Kruger is quick to point out that The Voice offers up not just vocal performances but personal stories that are touching and compelling.
“There are so many different people who show up to audition each year, and we have some incredible personalities this season,” she says.
“We have a woman from Iran, and in her country it’s illegal for a female performer to sing in public. She risked being put in jail if she sang at home. So to pursue her dream, she has had to come to Australia.
“And we have a young guy named Adam, he’s 16, a lovely boy who has Tourette’s syndrome. He has had severe tics for most of his life, but when he gets up onstage and sings … well, you just have to see it.”
She’s quite the salesperson, that Sonia Kruger. (And she admits with a laugh that she’s being watched by a PR person imploring her not to reveal too much about the contestants in this upcoming season.)
Something she can discuss, however, is The Voice’s line-up of coaches, which sees old favourites Delta Goodrem, Jessie J and the afore-mentioned Joel and Benji Madden joined by a new face – Irish pop star Ronan Keating, well-known from his time on the judging panel on a rival talent quest, Seven’s The X Factor.
“For me, the real surprise this year has been Ronan,” she says. “You’ll see in the first few episodes he struggles a little bit. It’s a new show for him, while the other coaches have their pitching styles down pat.
“So it takes a little while for him to find his feet – and he admitted to me, ‘This show is giving me a complex!’ – but he’s very direct and he really backs himself. “