Originally from the village of Pomeroy in Co Tyrone, Andrea Begley hails from a rich tradition of Irish music and song. Her aunt, Ireland’s “Queen of Country”, Philomena Begley, was a big influence on Andrea, who looked up to her as a shining example of female success in the music industry.
Having performed in choirs and all-Ireland fleadhanna (art & music competitions) in her youth, Andrea moved to Belfast and began working on original song-writing and performing, playing at open mic and original music events. In 2012, she was a finalist in the pilot for a song-writing TV show, The Hit, with her song The Message being chosen by star producer Steve Lillywhite for the final eight.
Encouraged by this result, and by her promoters on the Belfast music scene, Andrea entered The Voice UK in 2013. Registered blind since the age of 9, the show’s format of judges unable to see contestants’ auditions appealed to her. Although, as she pointed out at the time, it also meant that she couldn’t tell if any of the judges had turned for her! Saying Andrea had “the voice of an angel”, The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue leapt at the chance to mentor her. Andrea went on to wow celebrity coaches and audiences alike, with performances of emotive ballads such as Angel, Songbird and My Immortal, and after beating thousands of other talented singers, was crowned the Voice UK winner in June, 2013.
“Andrea’s voice is beautiful, angelic and touches me right in the heart”– Tom Jones
With fans propelling her debut album The Message to no 7 in the UK album charts, Andrea began touring with sell-out shows in iconic venues in the UK and beyond, including playing to thousands of fans in Beijing.
Since then, Andrea has released a number of successful singles, touring solo and with her aunt Philomena across Northern Ireland. She has recently released a second album of original material and favourite covers, Soul of a Songbird.
Visual Impairment Activism
As a result of losing her sight in childhood, Andrea has lived experience of life with a disability. From the age of 19, she has volunteered with the Royal National Institute of Blind people, and is currently chair of the RNIB network committee in Northern Ireland. She lends her voice to many campaigns on disability issues, particularly those faced by blind and partially sighted people regarding access to education, employment and services.