The Voice winner Anthonia Edwards: from nursing to touring with Billy Ocean

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Just about to complete her nursing degree, Anthonia Edwards wanted to have a bit of fun before, as she puts it, she ‘dived into the reality of life’. “I wanted to do something different,” she says. “So I applied for The Voice because I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. And it was incredible.”

In the end, the 25-year-old qualified nurse from Blackheath ended up winning what is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest TV singing competitions. Coached by Sir Tom Jones, she took the final by storm with renditions of Billie Eilish’s When The Party's Over, James Brown’s It's a Man's Man's Man's World (sung with Sir Tom), and Justin Bieber’s Anyone.

“The experience was amazing; there were peaks and valleys of long build-ups and then really intense moments,” says Anthonia. “I don’t really remember singing the songs, but I made sure to ground myself and take a breath before each performance. And I really bonded with Sir Tom Jones - to have a legend like him giving me opportunities was crazy.”

A star is born

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Anthonia EdwardsAnthonia Edwards
Anthonia Edwards

Having discovered her vocal talents at the age of six whilst singing at church, Anthonia was nevertheless shy growing up, according to her parents, which is why they were reportedly a little taken aback by her decision to throw herself into the national spotlight on The Voice. But, convinced by her desire to share her love of music, they supported her wholeheartedly.

After selecting Sir Tom Jones to coach her during the competition, she made it all the way to the competition’s denouement, where she got the chance to perform with Sir Tom - an experience she described as ‘an amazing feeling’ despite her almost forgetting her lines. All it took was one look at the audience and Anthonia knew it was the moment to give it her all.

Catching the eye

Having since signed a prestigious recording contract with major record label EMI and released her debut single Anyone, a reimagined version of the hit single by Justin Bieber, Anthonia not only has plans to release new music this year, but is currently in the midst of a dream-come-true tour with R&B legend Billy Ocean.

Sir Tom Jones (Ian West/PA Wire)Sir Tom Jones (Ian West/PA Wire)
Sir Tom Jones (Ian West/PA Wire)

After catching Ocean’s attention on The Voice, Anthonia’s stunning vocals prompted him to look her up and discover her spellbinding cover of Love Really Hurts Without You on Instagram. He was immediately hooked and reached out, asking her to open for him on his 21-gig tour which culminates in a final performance at Blackpool’s Opera House on April 29.

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“I’ve never done anything like this tour before, so I’m really excited to sing some songs I love and travel,” says Anthonia. “To do it with Billy Ocean as well… What are the chances that something like that would come my way? He’s such a cool guy and not many people get this opportunity, so I’m just super excited.

“I was always a fan - you grow up listening to his songs, sometimes not even realising that it’s Billy Ocean,” she adds. “He’s got a lot of hits, so you’re like ‘no way, that’s him too!’ It’s a great chance to showcase who I am outside of The Voice and I’m so grateful that Billy has given me the opportunity to do that.

“The shows are selling out, so that stage is set - people are there for him, but I get to try stuff out as an artist and show the UK what I’m about,” Anthonia continues. “The Voice is a 90-second performance, whereas this is a full half-hour set, so I get to showcase more of my flavour without being restricted.

Billy Ocean (Matthias Nareyek Getty Images)Billy Ocean (Matthias Nareyek Getty Images)
Billy Ocean (Matthias Nareyek Getty Images)

“The Voice was incredible and it got me used to big stages, but this will be somewhat more intimate - it’s not about TV, it’s about what’s happening in the room and having a good time with the audience. It’s a massive step up, but no risk, no reward. And, if I want to be an artist, this is part of it, so we’re trying to create a really cool show.

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“I’m using the pressure to push myself. On the Voice, my songs were quite serious and they were great, but we get to have a bit more lighthearted fun on tour, keep it upbeat, whilst also showcasing a new single as well. Having the chance to show I have that range is brilliant: I get to shine… although I don’t know how much I’ll shine next to Billy Ocean!”

From the ICU ward to the stage

A world away from the lifestyle of a nurse, life on the road is something Anthonia has always dreamed of, but she’s under no illusions and is taking each day as it comes. Thankfully, she feels in a good place to make the most of the chances she’s been given as a result of her professional medical background.

“The change from being a nurse to this is crazy, man,” she says. “Being a nurse is a team profession and it’s very intense, whereas music, while it involves a team behind everything, people look to me to call the shots. I’m learning, but there are some transferable skills - making choices on the sly and connecting with people, for example, which has really helped.

“Nursing allowed me to see the world from a different perspective and it changes you in a really good way to help people, relate to them, and realise that anyone can be in that situation,” Anthonia adds. “You’ve got to make people feel seen, which is what you have to do with an audience, too.

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“The Voice taught me to take risks and have fun, so I feel I’m meant to be on this path,” she continues. “It’s shaped me to have a great outlook on life. And I’ve never been up to Blackpool before either, so I can’t wait.”

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