The Voice singer on Tom Jones chair turn and her local roots
PUBLISHED: 09:14 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:14 11 March 2020
The Voice UK/Instagram
A local singing teacher beat 18,000 vocalists before appearing on The Voice twice this year and getting a chair turn from singer Tom Jones.
Lara Anstead, 26, moved to Saffron Walden when she was six and felt empowered by High Street-based arts school Sting Performing Arts to pursue a career in singing. She went on a cruise ship where she met her daughter's father, who auditioned her to be part of his band. They both moved to India, but life brought Lara back to her roots.
She moved back to Saffron Walden and decided to give back to the school that taught her to live life on a 'high note' - by becoming Sting's only vocal coach. She loves her job, and feels that it was coaching children that made her miss performing. She now teaches three- to six-year-old children every Wednesday in Thaxted, and coaches children and teenagers (seven to 16 years old) every other Saturday in Saffron Walden.
'I have been coaching local children for about three years,' she said.
'I had offers to work in other places, but I am loyal to Sting. The school is a big part of my life. Sting gave me my confidence as a young performer who won't sing in front of anyone and they did all they could to get me on stage. I was so shy. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be where I am today, it's such an incredible place.'
Lara learned from Sting a valuable lesson that she hopes to pass on to the next generations: 'Don't let anyone tell you that you are too loud or too much.'
She certainly practices what she preaches, as this year singer Tom Jones turned his chair around during blind auditions at The Voice, where she went with her mother, father and daughter, who all live in Saffron Walden. Lara was about to finish singing 'Say you love me' by Jessie Ware when the chair turn happened.
'I couldn't believe it. It is quite a funny thing, he waited until the very last minute and we were told before we went on stage that if we don't get a chair turn we should walk off the stage and not talk to them [the judges]. It was so last minute that I was so ready to walk off stage.'
Despite local teachers having helped her become a confident singer, Lara says the emotions she felt on the stage at The Voice were hard to control.
She said: 'I don't often get nervous singing, but it's amazing how nervous I felt with the camera and the celebrities and the huge studio.
'I remember closing my eyes and thinking, sing as well as you can, and see where it gets you.'
It got her far. Out of 18,000 candidates, she made the top 40. The judges, accomplished musicians and performers, said she was good.
After her successful blind audition, Lara went through the 'Battle' stage, where she had to perform a duet with another singer on team Tom Jones - Jonny Brooks.
They performed 'Us' by James Bay and Lara benefitted from Tom Jones' coaching.
'I hope we will sing that song again, our voices sounded great together,' Lara said.
Tom Jones chose her duet partner, Jonny, but Lara said she is 'not upset', on the contrary, she feels 'proud of herself' for getting as far as she did and cherishes the memories and friends she made.
'I met a lot of great friends. We are very close to each other and we are looking out for each other. I think when you go together through such an intense stage, you sort of bound.
'We got to stay in a hotel together and go for lunches together. We met in London a few times. In Manchester, we got to spend four nights in a big hotel.
'We have a Whatsapp group so it is nice to keep up with what is going on.'
Lara is said to have been supported by all the children she teaches throughout her televised performances.