Blind singer Julee-Anne Bell’s blind audition on The Voice Australia 2022 was one of the most moving that the franchise has produced. Bell has a great, classically trained voice, but, because of her blindness, she was unable to see if any of the coaches turned their chairs. “I’m not sure, I mean I have never met you guys before, so I should probably let you know that I actually can’t see, I can’t see you at all,” Bell said. “I am standing here not certain if any of you actually turned around.”
Julee-anne Bell has been totally Blind from birth. After school, she attended the University of Queensland where she completed a master’s degree in music. She spent seven years performing with Opera Queensland before setting up her own music school and teaching approximately 50 students a year. For her The Voice 2022 audition, Bell elected to sing Climb Ev’ry Mountain from The Sound of Music. Let’s take a look:
As Bell admits on stage after singing the song, Climb Ev’ry Mountain was not a random choice. The fact that coach Guy Sebastian sang it on his way to winning the first series of Australian Idol in 2003, “might have something to do with it”. This admission helped set the scene for a rather tender interchange. After Bell chose Sebastian for her coach, he said, “I have to sing that with you, just the chorus or something”. Bell happily agrees, joking, “I’ll sing the low bit.”
Tiago Titto astutely comments on YouTube: “She vocalizes the song as a soprano the first time. Singing with Guy she starts the song in the same tone of voice as him, totally different. That’s a pure and rare talent”. jenssong117 agrees “Her ability to switch styles! Her range! Her control! She’s fantastic! And then on top of that, she’s funny and super charming. With an adorable husband”. Unfortunately, Julee-Anne Bell was eliminated in the “cut” round. That doesn’t mean we can’t hear more of her
That was Time to Say Goodbye or Con te partirò, uploaded by Julee-Anne Bell in February 2022. The song is associated with the Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, who released it on his second studio album, Bocelli (1995).
Bell was defeated in the cut round of The Voice Australia 202 by Bella Taylor Smith, the eventual winner. Incidentally, Smith was also a member of Team Guy. Sebastian was the first coach to deploy the newly introduced coach’s prerogative to block another coach from getting a blind audition contestant they both wanted. In this instance, Sebastian used his (single) block to prevent Jessica Mauboy claiming Bella Taylor Smith.
South Burnett.com spoke to Bell in August 2021, reporting, “The irony of a visually impaired singer performing in ‘blind auditions’ was not lost on Julee-Anne. The producers, ITV, even checked with her if the terminology was all okay!”
An interesting side story about Julee-Anne Bell is the manner in which she uses sound to help navigate her surroundings. As reported by ABC News Australia in 2016, Bell learned Daniel Kish’s technique of ‘flash-sonar’, a type of echo location using tongue-clicking. Kish is President of World Access for the Blind and Bell is now Managing Director of World Access for the Blind Australia, a not-for-profit organisation. In 2022, Julee-Anne Bell was nominated for the Blind Australian of the Year Award. If you would like to see more from Julee-Anne Bell Music, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel.