Incredible Irish singer, Maria Doyle Cuche, wow's judges on TF1's The Voice in France with her rendition of Danny Boy, accompanied by her children.
People who settled down to watch the first episode of the ninth season of ‘The Voice’, on TF1, in France, had a very special treat when Maria Doyle Cuche stepped onto the stage to sing Danny Boy, surrounded by her “stars”, five of her seven musician children. Irish people may remember her as Maria Christian when she represented Ireland and came sixth in the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Wait Until the Weekend Comes”.
Read more: Danny Boy - The real story behind the beloved Irish ballad
That was before she met Frenchman Emmanuel Cuche in Dundalk, fell in love and got married in the early 1990s. Maria and her husband have lived in Lorraine, in the northeast of France, for the past 20 years.
Maria has been blind since she was nine and a half years old, a fact the judges of The Voice were of course not aware of. According to the rules of the show, the judges have their backs turned to the performer and are ‘blind’ to the competitors’ physiques as they perform.
The judges were touched by her rendition of Danny Boy, especially Lara Fabian as her recently deceased mother often sang the Irish ballad. Pascal Obispo literally kicked the buzzer after just a couple of lines of Maria’s melodious voice.
When she hit the high notes with the words “It's I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow, Oh, Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so!” in the second verse, the usually composed Lara Fabian looked like she’d seen an apparition just before she hit the buzzer and as tears streamed down her face.
Marc Lavoine pushed the button near the end of the song; making him the third out of the four-judge panel to opt for Maria. Luckily he made it; earlier in the show he missed buzzing a young artist he liked due to the song finishing more prematurely than he had anticipated!
At the end of her performance, when she heard the applause and it registered that three of the judges wanted her on their teams, Maria gave a little shriek of joy and threw back her head laughing with delight. She then explained to the judges she had carried away, that it was actually she who was the blind person present.
She chooses Lara Fabian (Canadian-Belgian singer, songwriter, musician, actress, and producer) to be her coach. When she and Lara hugged Maria told her that her real name was Veronique. The same name as Lara’s defunct mother; Lara later explained that something special had happened, she felt she had an ‘out of this world’ connection with Maria.
Maria is a beautiful looking woman; she looks like a dark-haired Irish cailín. But that’s where the ‘Black Irish’ look can be deceptive. Maria is actually half Spanish, a fact she found out the same day she found out she was going blind.
She has a rare genetic disease, which is passed on when both parents are carriers. Her biological father is unaware of her existence and she hopes the publicity around ‘The Voice’ may allow her to find him. Maria faced many obstacles in her life and yet her life seems more magical than most. She refused to adapt to her handicap, maintaining it had to adapt to her. When you see her, unless she mentions her blindness, you might not notice it.
Chris de Burgh once wrote a song for Maria, but she put her musical career to the side for a while. However, it seems that now she’s most definitely back and with the backup group that she formed, in more ways than one. She couldn’t teach her children to read so she decided to teach them all music.
Maria was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She was born in a Magdalene Laundry. Her mother fought to keep her and told the nuns who wanted her to give Maria up for adoption “I saw her coming out of me, she’s my baby and you are not going to take her away from me.”
Luckily her grandmother found them and brought them back home. Maria’s mother always supported her in her wish to be a singer and to not let blindness block her from being a success and enjoying life to the full. After a TEDx talk in 2017, Plon a leading French publisher asked Maria to write her story. Her book entitled ‘On ne voit bien qu'avec le Coeur,’ (English translation:‘One Sees Clearly Only With the Heart’) was published in September 2018.
Maria’s voice literally gave me goosebumps. There wasn’t a dry Irish eye among Irish living in France as they sat on their sofas Saturday night. And not only Irish eyes were crying and smiling, messages are pouring into TF1 from spectators who loved her voice, song, and personality. The beautiful, inspirational Irish woman, dressed in white was described as a “dove” by judge Marc Lavoine.
Her amazing voice married perfectly with Danny Boy, the song so synonymous with the Irish Diaspora. In an article for the Irish Independent in September 2018, Maria said, “I believe I am every bit as much a fighter like Conor McGregor. When he goes into the ring, he can see what he is up against. I can't.”
Irish people living in France and ‘Mná na hÉireann Paris’, are all rooting for Maria. We’re looking forward to later sessions of ‘The Voice’ when the public can participate in the voting. Maria, you’ve done us proud.
Go Maria Go!
Read more: Ten best and worst renditions of “Danny Boy” to love and avoid
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