By Hayley Morrow

Ayrshire-born singer-songwriter Craig Ward has spoken exclusively to Ayrshire Magazine about his time on the ITV hit talent show: The Voice. Craig, 31, made an impressive start on the sixth series appearing as the fifth contestant back in January 21, 2017. Singing Billy Joel’s ‘She’s Always A Woman’ he wowed the judges forcing Black-Eyed Peas frontman, Tom Jones and Gavin Rossdale to turn in the blind auditions. After some deliberation, he decided to choose Tom Jones as
his coach.

“I would’ve taken anyone at the time,” Ward revealed how excited he was to have the choice of three. “I had told myself that if Tom turned, then he would be my choice because of how widespread his experience is.”

Music legend Sir Tom Jones was very complimentary toward his Ayrshire protégé, and said how much he loved the fact he could hear the singer’s Scottish accent coming through in his singing voice.

“I felt very Scottish,” Ward said proudly. “It is not until you are away from a small town until you realise. I walked past Jamiroquai, the chart-topping singing artist, and (he) said ‘Awrite mate!’ That feels like a lifetime ago now.”

It is amazing how much Craig has accomplished this year – and is now talking about the release of his new album. He has come a relatively long way in a short time. In fact, before applying to be on the show, Craig had stopped singing all together and was planning to start a family.

“I began to wonder if I would ever do music again,” He told us openly. “I just thought why not go big and give it one last shot, but I never thought I would be this lucky.”

Week after week the public vote returned the man from Ayr,
as he successfully progressed to the semi-finals.

The father of a little boy, Ward confided that coming from a small town made him feel very ‘proud’ during his time on The Voice. To Craig, it felt like everyone across Ayrshire was be rooting for him and voting for him to remain in the contest. But, it wasn’t until the knockout stages that the Ayrshire singer-songwriter realised how much he really wanted to win the competition. But then disaster struck. On the day of the knockout live show Ward was suffering from severe swollen glands and wasn’t feeling well.

“We had done some rehearsals, complete with the coaches,” he explained. “And, I just couldn’t reach the high notes. I was getting nowhere near them.”

At that point Craig was faced with the horrible reality of having to leave the competition for good. He was devastated. The timing of being struck down by the virus could not have been at a worse for him and his fans.

“I thought this is do or die,” he admitted. “Every ounce that I had left in the tank went into that performance and to have gotten through is one of the best feelings. I found myself so emotional. It was nice to be fighting for Ayrshire.”

Craig also explained that being part of ‘Team Tom’ made him feel ‘energised’ during performances. He had always admired Sir Tom Jones and was impressed by his vast experience of the music world. Craig, however, revealed that, as yet and since the end of the show, he has not yet heard from his celebrity mentor.

Even with the amount of “dad dancing” tweets he received during his performance, Ward still misses the talent show and the camaraderie of the people and contestants he met on the hit BBC show.

“It is a good experience and a lot of fun,” Craig said thoughtfully. “It is nice to focus on music exclusively.”

Craig Ward is one of eight children and always believed singing was going to be his niche. He grew up in Ayrshire and attended the local St John’s Primary School and Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr. He found his passion, and delight in singing while studying at school.

“I started singing at a young age (and) saved to buy my first guitar when I was 15,” He told us of these formative years. “I went for guitar lessons and one day I had a sort of ‘click moment’.

When Craig was 16 and wanted to apply for Pop Idol, an earlier version of the music talent show, his mum wouldn’t allow it and refused to sign the parental permission form. This was to protect him, she was only concerned that he wouldn’t survive
in such a hostile and unforgiving environment.

“After this, I started writing and recording songs,” The Ayr singer explained. “I recorded my first song ‘Beautiful Eyes’ when I was sixteen, I wrote it myself and it was very cheesy.
I performed it at my former high school and it was such a buzz. I realised all I wanted to do was write and record.”

Unfortunately only the students at Queen Margaret Academy have been lucky enough so far to hear ‘Beautiful Eyes’.

“I love writing, I need to really get inside a song and attach a personal meaning,” He revealed. “Growing up in a small Ayrshire town has, and always will, influence my music because Ayr is a historic town as well as being the home of the Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. My whole musical life is rooted within Ayr and always goes back to that town.”

Following his success on the show and his newly formed army of fans, Craig is currently working on his new album. He is busy writing material, hoping it will be strong enough to feature on the debut album.

“I always pictured myself as your sort of Damien Rice style singer, songwriter and when I started approaching bigger songs the record label were really encouraged,” Ward explained.
“A lot of what we’re working on is how to find that size whilst maintaining my traditional style, and of course my Scottish accent that I canny get rid of, whether I like it or not. Some of my new material is shaped around my experience on The Voice, especially the conversations with my wife after the madness of each day.”

Craig is hoping to tour in 2018 and the advice from the team at AM? Don’t get rid of your local accent, after all it didn’t do The Proclaimers any harm.