X FACTOR star Jahmene Douglas has won the hearts of millions with his soulful voice – but a few years ago he was playing front man in a local rock band.
The talented Swindonian was a member of The Shuffle and put his unique, soulful twist on a number of classic rock songs.
Lee Douglas, 21, of Haydon Wick, was the bass guitarist in the band and spoke of the first time he ever heard Jahmene sing.
“I remember when Jahmene first came to band practice. He was really nervous but he had this amazing and powerful voice which none of us were expecting,” he said.
The band was made up of four musicians – joining Jahmene was drummer Callum Green, 20, of Greenmeadow and guitarists Niall Badcock, 21, of Moredon and Oli Record, 20, of Greenmeadow.
As a result of his position in the band, 21-year-old Jahmene was no stranger to treading the boards at some of Swindon’s most popular rock venues.
The Shuffle toured Swindon’s pub and club scene, playing at venues like The Grapes pub in Faringdon Road and Stratton Live in Stratton St Margaret, from April 2009 until they disbanded in 2010.
The group even had a date at the famous Riff’s Bar in Greatfield which has played host to performances by members of rock groups such as The Jam and Swindon’s own XTC.
Jahmene and the boys played a whole catalogue of rock hits such as Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away, Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight and even songs as obscure as The Darkness’ I Believe in a Thing Called Love.
“Many people will be surprised to learn that Jahmene sang all these rock songs but he’s such an extraordinary and talented singer that he managed to pull it off,” said Lee.
“The way he mixed his style with songs that are more rock oriented was really quite interesting.”
But there is no bitterness or resentment between the former members of The Shuffle and X Factor superstar Jahmene, with members offering him nothing but support in the competition.
“I wish Jahmene the best of luck,” said Lee.
“It genuinely couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more deserving person.”
This week will see Jahmene take on songs that are based around the theme of guilty pleasures.