Last year she gave Ireland its best-ever finish at Junior Eurovision with her Celtic-tinged pop song “Bríce Ar Bhríce”.
And on Saturday Zena Donnelly, 14, deployed her signature power and poise as she slayed her blind audition on The Voice Kids UK 2017 — the new ITV series presented by Emma Willis.
Looking every inch the rocker, Zena wore an all-black number which she paired with a flowing plaid duster coat as she nailed the Jessie J single “Mamma Knows Best”.
Zena Donnelly’s Blind Audition on The Voice Kids UK
She may have been performing in front of pop icons will.i.am, Pixie Lott and Danny Jones from McFly, but Zena wasn’t fazed in the slightest.
A gobsmacked Pixie hit that all-important button almost immediately. Neither Danny nor will.i.am pressed their buttons, but let there be no doubt: They too understand Zena’s potential.
— The Voice Kids UK (@thevoicekidsuk) June 17, 2017
Despite the judges confusing her name for the Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess, there was certainty on another matter.
Pixie said Zena owned that stage. “Your tone is really amazing,” she said.
When asked about her favourite artists, Zena mentioned the late Whitney Houston before revealing she performed a duet with her live on stage, which she told wiwiblogger William about when they met at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Malta last November (videos below).
The revelation led will.i.am to whip out his mobile phone and search for “Whitney’s Little Friend” on YouTube, and the judges then watched a 7-year old Zena sing “Greatest Love of All” — and with Whitney.
After Zena rushed to her parents backstage, the judges had nothing but praise for the rising Irish star.
“How cool is that?” Pixie asked.
Ex-Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am had even more kind words.
“She was validated. There’s this belief that she can sing like Whitney. Whitney Houston brings her up on stage. As a result of that, that little girl Zena then turns into this warrior princess with vocals that can tackle any adult.”
Zena’s success — and we wish her many more weeks of it — continues a recent trend, with Junior Eurovision stars from abroad making in-roads in the UK.
Malta’s Destiny Chukunyere reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent earlier this month.