POPSTAR To Operastar winner Joe McElderry today vowed to turn his homecoming gig in South Shields into one big party.
His win last night in the ITV1 show was his second TV triumph in less than two years – following on from winning The X Factor in 2009.
The 20-year-old beat ex-Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker in last night’s final, and said he was “over the moon”.
He told the Gazette this morning: “It’s absolutely amazing to win, I’m over the moon and glad people enjoyed me performing opera.
“It was an extra boost to know people enjoy another genre of performance. The night was electric. I had a blast on the show singing like I’ve never sang before.
“After everything that has happened in the last few months, it was lovely to think the public have still got my back.
“To think everyone is still voting, I feel so lucky. They had already done it on a huge scale for X Factor, and it’s just amazing to find people are still supportive.
“Thank you to everyone who voted. I’ll see you all at the Bents Park for a party – one big celebration.”
Joe, who was dropped by Simon Cowell’s record company Syco in April, revealed to the Gazette last week he had another record contract up his sleeve.
He added: “It’s not going to be pop, it’s going to be a lot of big, lush ballads. I wanted to do a few more ballads on my first album. It’s going to appeal to all my fans.
“I’m going to sing a few Italian songs. I’m not going to change my voice – I don’t want to scare people too much.
“If all goes to plan, I should be back in the studio next week. I can’t reveal which label it’s with but it’s an amazing label.
“I’m so excited they’re interested in making an album with me. It’s going to be a very exciting couple of months.
“I really like Simon Cowell and always think very highly of him. I wouldn’t have won this show if it wasn’t for the opportunity and massive platform he gave me.
“There’s no hard feelings there – there never has been and never will be.”
Runner-up Cheryl revealed she thought it was unlikely she would win, telling host Myleene Klass: “He’s fantastic. I had my money on Joe from the beginning.”
Joe told the Gazette: “I love her to bits, she’s an absolutely lovely lady, and I was honoured to share the final with her.”
It was clear on last night’s show that mentors and judges Rolando Villazon and Katherine Jenkins want Joe to pursue opera.
Rolando: “I think what he has is more impressive at 20 than what people saw in me when I was 20.
“I really hope, Joe, that you commit to this art form, as I really think you can become an opera star in the years to come.”
Katherine added: “Please carry on doing this, you’re wonderful.”
The first performance of the evening came from Joe, teamed with mentor Rolando for Gastaldon’s Musica Proibita.
Next up was the solos, as Joe kicked things off with a rousing performance of Nessun Dorma, and a tearful grandma Hilda could be spotted in the audience.
After his performance, which earned him a standing ovation, Rolando said: “If anybody had a doubt whether you can sing with passion, that is it. If you are impressed with what you have done in six weeks’ wait to see what you can do within two years.”
The final performance came when Cheryl and Joe took to the stage with Rolando and Katherine for a group performance of Funiculì, Funiculà.
After he was announced as the winner, Joe performed another rousing rendition of Nessun Dorma for the audience.
Joe is now looking forward to his Bent Park performance on July 24.
He said: “I’m going into band rehearsals next week and the show’s going to be amazing.
“There’ll be some songs from X Factor, some from the album and maybe even some new stuff if it’s ready.”