Anthem coup for persistent Paula
The voice to sing at BledisloeISOBEL EWING
Paula Parore's dad had three girls so none of them became All Blacks.
But this year one of them will sing the national anthem before the Bledisloe Cup, and for him, that's just as good.
Parore, originally from Stratford, is now based in Perth pursuing her singing career after appearing on the hit Australian reality TV talent show The Voice put her in the spotlight.
"It's been an amazing platform that's let me do a whole lot of things I didn't think were even possible," Parore says, over the phone from Perth.
When she left Taranaki in 2007 after splitting with the father of her three girls, Parore thought Perth would provide a fresh start for her and the kids.
But she had never entertained dreams of pursuing a sparkling singing career.
"I was a teenage mum so I didn't really have any goals.
"Being a mum, that's all I wanted to do and that's all I ever did."
She worked at the Fonterra factory in Eltham and always thought that to be a professional singer you needed good connections.
Then she moved to Australia, entered a YouTube video application for The Voice on a whim, and everything fell into place.
Like many reality TV shows, especially those searching for singing talent via public auditions, a good back story is crucial - and Parore's melted hearts.
"I was the single mum who moved from New Zealand with three daughters with only a bag each.
"They ate that one up," she laughs.
Since featuring on the show in 2012, Parore has been back to her old primary and high schools in Taranaki where she's found she's a celebrity.
"Everyone still knows who I am even though I was on the show two years ago."
She made sure she hammered home the message that going to school in a small town didn't mean you couldn't achieve big things.
Parore's foray into competition singing began at the first Taranaki Idol held at bygone pub The Mill.
"It was like karaoke, you had to have a few drinks to settle the nerves.
"The other singers were amazing so I was surprised I actually won, I got a free trip to the Gold Coast."
From her closed audition for The Voice, she was one of five picked from about 70 applicants from Western Australia, then one of the three who made it to blind auditions.
She was married two days before the blind audition which meant cutting her honeymoon in half, but that didn't bother her new husband too much.
"He got to come over as well, the partners ended up getting a free trip to Sydney as well so we added that on to our honeymoon."
The days shooting the show were long, contestants arrived at Fox Studios at 6.30am then often did 17-18 hours a day, Parore says.
"With TV you don't know what goes on behind the scenes, now that I do I'm not sure I'd go back again."
There were benefits of being a "country bumpkin from New Zealand", Parore says.
She recalls watching as people kept approaching a woman she didn't recognise and telling her how proud her father must be.
Parore introduced herself and it turned out to be Mahalia Barnes, daughter of Jimmy.
Barnes was delighted that someone had no clue who she was and the two became good friends.
In the show, four judges, all noteworthy recording artists, choose teams of contestants through the blind audition process, whereby each judge has the length of the auditioner's performance to decide if they want the singer on their team.
The judges sit in chairs facing the audience and if they like what they hear, they press a button which turns their chair to face the singer.
Parore says the scariest part of the blind audition was walking onto the stage to deathly silence because audience members were not permitted to move or speak.
"The only thing you can hear is your own breathing and your heart jumping around.
"You hear the clicking of the band to let you know your song's about to start."
Too nervous to face the crowd of hundreds, Parore closed her eyes and began to sing Adele's Don't You Remember.
After the first few words the audience erupted into applause.
She opened her eyes and Seal had already turned around.
"I looked at him and I thought, 'Oh my god, that's Seal'.
"I had to refocus and turn and look somewhere else and then Delta turned around.
"I was trying to concentrate and be serious but inside I was jumping up and down and screaming.
"I could only imagine what my kids and husband were doing backstage."
Parore was knocked out in the "battle" stage of the show, but the exposure launched her singing career.
Since then, she's opened for some of the best New Zealand bands that have come to Perth, sung at corporate events and for charities and flown to Melbourne and Sydney to perform.
And for the last two years she and her manager have been hounding the Australian Rugby Union to let her sing the New Zealand national anthem.
"I finally wore them down.
"It's been my ultimate goal forever, to sing for my country, to sing for the All Blacks.
"My dad had three daughters and I had three daughters so none of us made the All Blacks, but this is kind of the next best thing for him."
Her parents are flying over from New Zealand to watch her sing at the Bledisloe Cup match this month.
After ticking that dream off the list, the next goal for Parore is playing at Womad in New Plymouth.
"That's what you always want to do, go and make yourself known out in the world and come back home and show people that you can be something if you really put your mind to it."
- Taranaki Daily News
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