August 19, 2021
If you’d searched the web for references to Kingaroy singing teacher Julee-anne Bell last week, there would have been a few “hits”.
After all, Julee-anne is well-known in the South Burnett, and local media (including us) have written about her amazing voice in the past.
She even judged the cooee competition at Kingaroy’s 2020 Australia Day celebrations after performing the National Anthem!
But now all of Australia has been let in on the South Burnett’s secret …
It’s no exaggeration to say Julee-anne’s performance of The Sound Of Music classic “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” on Channel 7’s “The Voice” on Monday night stunned viewers – and broke the Internet.
Searches for “Julee-anne Bell” and “The Voice” will now give you almost 330,000 Google results, and a video of her impromptu duet with judge Guy Sebastian has been viewed more than 196,000 times on YouTube and 753,000 times on Facebook!
Even the Facebook video of a Sunrise interview with Julee-anne on Tuesday morning has been seen more than 136,000 times and attracted 3300 “likes”.
These were just some of the comments from southburnett.com.au readers on our social media after her performance:
“Just sang so beautifully. Wow you have been hiding a real diamond Kingaroy!”
“OMG. I had goosebumps and when Guy got up and sang with her… I had tears. It was beautiful.”
“Goosebumps on goosebumps. Just beautiful.”
Julee-anne and her husband Thomas chose to watch the show quietly at home by themselves on Monday night.
“People were wanting to come over and watch it with us but I’m actually really glad that I didn’t have people over because I found the whole thing quite emotional,” Julee-anne said.
“When you’re on the inside of something, and you know all that went on to get you to that point, it is quite emotional to sit back and watch it because it wasn’t easy.”
Watching the show put her straight back into the environment of the TV studio.
“It was fun, but I wouldn’t describe it as an easy process. There’s a lot of energy expended and you’ve got to be at the top of your game,” she said.
“You’ve got that 90 seconds to impress them … it was a very nerve-wracking thing.”
The show was labelled “the blind auditions” because the four judges are sitting with their backs to the performers and “turn” when they hear something they like.
The irony of a visually impaired singer performing in “blind auditions” was not lost on Julee-anne.
The producers, ITV, even checked with her if the terminology was all okay!
However, she has nothing but praise for the production team and the musical director, Scott Aplin.
“He’s brilliant,” she said.
Julee-anne recorded her “blind” performance in February in Sydney – in between NSW lockdowns – and was sworn to secrecy.
She and Thomas were down there for about 10 days and their two adult sons also came down to be part of the audience.
Julee-anne said the COVID requirements were very well-managed and she was temperature-tested every day.
And because Sydney was not a declared hotspot at the time, they didn’t have to quarantine when they returned to Queensland.
ITV paid for the couple’s accommodation and even hired a disability support worker to assist Julee-anne.
All the singers also had access to psychological support during the highs and lows of the competition.
The stress was even greater for Julee-anne, performing in an unfamiliar environment.
When she first walked on stage it was so quiet, she initially thought she was in the wrong place.
And she genuinely didn’t know when the judges turned their chairs during her performance as the sound-effects on TV are added in post-production.
But she could hear the audience clapping.
“When Guy Sebastian turned, the cheer was very different. There was something about that cheer that was really amazing,” she said.
“And I thought, please let that be Guy turning, and it was. That was pretty cool.”
Having Guy come up to sing with her was a shock and – despite what some people have suggested – completely unrehearsed.
But her selection of the song WAS deliberate. Guy had sung “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” on his way to winning Australian Idol in 2003 and Julee-anne was keen to make an impression.
So it was no surprise when she selected Guy to be her coach …
Julee-anne admits she didn’t expect the response from viewers on Monday night.
“I was very naive,” she said. “I honestly didn’t expect it. It was very overwhelming, actually.
“On Sunrise, they said I went viral – which is a good thing, even during a COVID epidemic!”
The reaction to the duet with Guy prompted her to message his Instagram page after people suggested they record it.
“I said: ‘I’m in if you are’.
“You just give it a try, don’t you? I figure the worst that can happen is nothing. But that would be really fun.”
The next stage of “The Voice” competition will be “The Cut” when the singers in each of the four judges’ “teams” are whittled down to five.
Julee-anne is still sworn to secrecy so we are all going to have to wait to see if she makes “the cut”!
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— The Voice Australia (@TheVoiceAU) August 16, 2021
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South Burnett residents enjoyed a preview of Julee-anne’s incredible voice – and the voices of her husband Thomas and four friends – in an a cappella performance at St John’s Lutheran Church Hall in Kingaroy on Sunday afternoon.
“6 Appeal”, as the group is called, performed before a packed house of about 100 music lovers.
Julee-anne said “6 Appeal” was born out of her desire to be able to sing in an ensemble rather than always being the conductor (she conducts the South Burnett Chorale).
“After much deliberation I chose five other singers whom I knew would share my vision,” she said.
On Sunday, the sextet performed group pieces as well as solo items.
It’s been a big year for Julee-anne … as well as her work with the South Burnett Chorale, forming “6 Appeal” and competing on “The Voice”, she also revived the music of the 1940s on stage in Nanango and even released an album online. “Love Notes” can be found on all the major streaming platforms.
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