The Voice star Jermain Jackman is on a mission to inspire youth and clean up Hackney’s image
- Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall
A Hackney teen who’s made it through the blind auditions of the BBC’s prestigious singing contest, The Voice, is on a mission to inspire others and turn around the borough’s image as a hotbed of crime.
Jermain Jackman was described as a “singing politician” on Saturday night by one of the four judges, legendary crooner Tom Jones, after he was singled out by hip hop rapper Will.i.am, who will now mentor and coach the 18-year old.
The Black Eyed Peas star had already spotted Jermain performing with Leona Lewis at the BBC’s Hackney Weekend festival in 2012 and told him to apply for the series.
The show’s judges - who also include pop queen Kylie Minogue and Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson - sit with their backs turned as contestants sing their hearts out, then press a button and swivel around if they like what they hear.
The Hackney Gazette - which first reported on his endeavours five years ago - got a plug on the show when Jermain mentioned the paper’s headline pinning him as the “first singing black Prime Minister”.
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Jermain, who co-ordinates the Hackney Labour party’s youth group, entered politics to get the voice of youth heard, having been touched by crime and gangs in the borough during his childhood.
“I know a lot of people who have been stabbed and killed, because they live in the wrong area and that really left me with something saying this has to change,” he said.
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“I was coming back from a performance once with my family, we were on a high, then we saw a boy being assaulted in Manor House by a group with baseball bats.
“Everyone else was driving past but my mother drove into the crowd and it dispersed, it could have been me, it could have been my friends,” said Jermain who lives off Queen’s Drive in Finsbury Park.
“Luckily Hackney has become better with crime but the youth motivation remains low,” he continued.
“There are many wrong stereotypes about young people, that city children from deprived backgrounds are nothing but hoodlums - it’s a barrier that stops you from progressing and those are the barriers I want to break down.
“The only way to separate yourself from crime is through opportunity, to know what you are good at and to progress in life.”
The “highlight” of his success came Sunday night when a 20-year old told him he’d inspired him to be “so much more”.
“That sent chills down my body, that I’m getting that platform to change people’s lives and to inspire people.
“The show has changed my life already, I feel I’ve been catapulted into the public domain,” added Jermain who has been stopped in the street by dozens of people asking for his photo and autograph since the show aired on Saturday.
“I believe my singing and music is the foundation of something so much greater, I can see myself singing around the world and changing people’s lives for the better, whether it be people who are depressed or not getting the jobs they want, keeping people motivated through singing is my love and passion.”
Jermain was picked out of nearly 40,000 applicants to audition for the show and is one of 48 hopefuls to continue into the show’s battle round.