Leah McFall discovered her love of music when she was just a child, enjoying nothing more than performing at Glenabbey Church near Glengormley.
In those early days she captivated a congregation with her stunning vocals. And now, more than a decade on, the Carnmoney singing sensation looks set to become a global superstar.
Having put her fashion degree course on hold to focus her attention on carving out a career in the cut-throat music industry, the 24-year-old got her big break on hit BBC TV talent show The Voice earlier this year.
After finishing runner-up in the show, during which she wowed judges and audiences alike with a series of jaw-dropping vocal performances, Leah was whisked away to Los Angeles by mentor will.i.am where they have been busy in the recording studio.
“It’s just been insane,” she told the Times this week during a trip home to visit family and friends.
“The album is pretty much done, but a few things just need fixed so hopefully it will be ready for release early next year.”
Leah has co-written the album, which she describes as “a fusion of influences” incorporating jazz and soul samples with R&B beats, with Will and a number of other top song writers and producers, both in LA and London.
“It’s been such an amazing experience. I’ve just been so lucky to get the opportunity to work with such talented and amazing people.
“Will is absolutely incredible. When you work with him you really can see why so many people call him a genius. He’s amazingly talented, but he’s just such a wee character as well. He’s really funny and he’s always doing impressions of people - he’s just such a lovely person and really great to work with.”
Leah was back in London, where she now lives, last month to perform alongside the Black Eyed Peas frontman at the Wireless Festival.
“It was amazing. It was absolutely incredible. Obviously having been on the TV show I’ve sung in front of more people, but when you’re actually standing there in from of 16 or 17 thousand people and you can see all their faces it’s just so nerve wracking, but it was such an incredible experience.”
After several hectic weeks jet-setting across the Atlantic, Leah was glad to get a break and head for home - the first time she’s been back to Northern Ireland since The Voice finished.
“It’s just been really lovely to have a few days off and to get home and see my family and catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in ages.
“People have been so supportive and so nice. They’ve been coming up to me and saying hello, so it’s been really lovely.”
Leah, who affectionately refers to her fans as ‘giants’ - a reference to one of her songs - is grateful for all the support she’s had from people at home in Northern Ireland. And she admits she was somewhat shocked when she found out that Newtownabbey Borough Council is planning a civic reception in her honour next month.
“I was actually in the studio with Will when I found out and I was really taken aback. It’s just so lovely. Will was really pleased for me as well and said I’m really blessed to come from such a supportive home town. I don’t know exactly what they’re planning yet, but they have been in touch with my manager about organising something so it’s just really lovely.”
Leah was due to head back to London on Wednesday and then get back to work with will.i.am in LA, putting the finishing touches to their album and discussing ideas for video shoots.
And despite saying she “cringes” at the very thought of being in a music video, it’s an aspect of the business the modest Carnmoney girl will have to get used to as she looks set for worldwide chart-topping success.