Jai McDowall

Jai McDowall (born 24 July 1986) is a Scottish singer–songwriter who won the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent in June 2011. As the winner, he received £100,000 and performed at the 2011 Royal Variety Performance. McDowall was signed to Syco Music, a subdivision of record label giant, Sony Music.

Jai McDowall
Birth nameJai McDowall
Born (1986-07-24) 24 July 1986[1]
Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland
OriginTarbolton, South Ayrshire, Scotland
GenresRock, opera, Classical crossover
Years active2011–present
LabelsSyco, Sony (2011–12)
WIR Records (2012–13)
Crossfire Talent (2013–present)
Associated actsRonan Parke
WebsiteOfficial website

Before Britain's Got Talent, he appeared as a contestant on The X Factor and The American Idol Experience.[2][3] His debut album Believe was released on 9 December 2011. The lead single "With or Without You" was released the same day. In March 2012, he was dropped by Syco after poor sales of his debut album.[4] It was reported that the singer claimed that Syco boss, Simon Cowell, was anti-Scottish.[4]

Early and personal life

McDowall was born in Tarbolton in Ayrshire, Scotland[5] where he worked as a support worker prior to winning Britain's Got Talent.[6] He was a member of the Ayr Amateur Opera Company and Loudoun Musical Society.[7] He played roles such as Frank in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Motel in Fiddler on the Roof.[8]

Before his job of looking after young people with disabilities, Jai spent two years studying Music and Audio Technology (NC & HNC) at Music and Sound Production Dept, Ayr College, Scotland.

Music career

The American Idol Experience & The X Factor

McDowall auditioned for The American Idol Experience whilst on holiday in the USA in 2009, and won.[3]

He also auditioned for The X Factor in 2010 and reached boot camp but lost out on a place in the live shows.[9]

Britain's Got Talent

Jai auditioned in Liverpool for the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent with "Anthem" from Chess, receiving very positive comments from all of the 3 judges, Michael McIntyre, Amanda Holden and David Hasselhoff. He received three yesses and was put through to the next round, and through to the live semi-finals.

Jai performed for a second time in the semi-final on 2 June 2011, singing "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence. He once again received positive comments from the judges including Cowell. Jai received the highest number of votes on the night and was automatically put through to the final.

In the final, Jai performed "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban. He once again received positive comments from all four judges, despite some criticism from judge Simon Cowell, who stated that the vocal was 'monotone’. This comment was acknowledged by McDowall. During the result, Simon later complimented Jai on his rendition of the song after he had won the top prize of £100,000. Jai was announced as the winner with 29.1% of the vote, approximately 4.1 million, which proved a shock as he beat bookies' favourite Ronan Parke.[10][11]

It was later revealed on Britain's Got More Talent that there was a margin of 2.4% of the vote, approximately 86,000, between Jai and runner-up Ronan Parke. He won £100,000 and a spot at the 2011 Royal Variety Performance.[12]

Post Britain's Got Talent

After winning Britain's Got Talent, Jai performed on the Britain's Got Talent Tour. Starting in Newcastle and moving through 3 Scottish cities Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow before heading through England and appearing in the major venues in most major cities. He performed at the 2011 Glasgow Show on Glasgow Green in front of 20,000 people, headlining the Sunday show along with Re-Take That and other guests. In August 2011, he secured a record deal with Syco and Sony Music to be released in December 2011.[13]

In October 2011 Jai performed a sell out headline show at the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock.[14][15] He also headlined the end of season shows at the main Butlins sites during the October Holiday Break before appearing in the Royal Variety show.

2011–2019: Believe

On 3 October 2011, it was confirmed that McDowall, as well as Sony Music Entertainment and Syco Music to promote his debut album, has also hired Soundcheck Entertainment to aid in the promotion of the forthcoming the album which was released in December 2011.[16]

McDowall announced on 26 October that the album would be titled Believe and would be released on 12 December.[17] Jai explained: "Being in the studio was everything I hoped it would be and I loved the whole creative process. I like the style of singing I did on Britain's Got Talent – a kind of mix of musical and pop – so we’re working along those lines." McDowall had a pleasant surprise at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall when he was invited by Josh Groban to jointly perform "To Where You Are" in front of a packed house. The crowd were treated to this impromptu performance which was warmly received by both artists fans. He told STV, in reference to Susan Boyle: "I think it's a fantastic thing. If I get even half of her success it's going to be absolutely amazing for me. It's dead funny cause people are calling me Jai-Bo!"[18] In 2012, McDowall sang his album lead track, "With or Without You" on China's Got Talent although oddly enough, no license was applied for to sell his single or album in China.[19]

It was confirmed by Sony in March 2012 that, after fulfilling his one-album contract, McDowall's deal will not be renewed.[20]

In 2013, Jai was asked to and agreed to perform at the March & Rally for Scottish Independence.[21]

Relationship with Simon Cowell

In 2012 it was misreported[22][23] that McDowall called Simon Cowell 'anti-Scottish' in a news article.[24] Reacting to the story, Cowell defended himself on Britain's Got More Talent saying that his mother was Scottish and reminded McDowall that he signed and still works with Susan Boyle who is Scottish.

Cowell aired his disappointment at McDowall winning the series. He said: "I was disappointed with last year's winner, Jai. You want to find someone who is a star all over the world and who has got a long career. With respect to him, he wasn't one of our best ones." Jai still has a very active career and is constantly working either writing or appearing in headline shows. He has toured with Michael Courtney and the "Mad about the musicals" show and also has headlined along with Christina Bianco. [25]

2019–present: The Champions

In September 2019, McDowell returned to prime time television performing on Series 1 of Britain's Got Talent: The Champions. Whilst McDowell did not progress to the final stages of the competition, his performance was well received by the judges and viewers, with many citing McDowell's on stage persona and vocal abilities maturing since his original win in 2011[26]. Since winning the show in 2011, and the lack of promotion of his debut album and a lack of support from Simon Cowell following his win and towards the release of his debut album, Cowell issued a public apology to McDowell immediately after his performance. Cowell admitted that the lack of support McDowell received from him was "unfair" and ended in McDowell receiving a standing ovation from Cowell (who immediately after his Champions performance) did not stand alongside fellow judges David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden[27].


Studio albums

List of albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Believe 5419
  • United Kingdom: 11,336[30]
  • Scotland: 15,000[30]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released

Extended plays

List of albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Christmas With... --
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
2011 "With or Without You" Believe
2012 "Better than a Broken Heart" Single-releases only
2013 "Got To Let Go"
"Fall Back Down"
"Won't Forget"
(as part of the Clutha Appeal)
"Here We Stand"
(featuring The Teenage Cancer Trust Band)
2014 "I Begin Again"
(Co-Written by Anthony Fedorov and Bill Grainer )


  1. "American Idol's Jennifer Lopez tweets Britain's Got Talent's Jai McDowall a birthday message". Unreality TV. 25 July 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  2. "Prikbordfoto's". Facebook. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  3. https://twitter.com/Jai_McDowall/status/165756128398024704
  4. "Tarbolton star gets Ayrshire Post backing". Ayrshire Post. Ayrshire: Scottish & Universal Newspapers. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  5. "Jai Mcdowall - Britain's Got Talent 2011 - ITV.com - Finalists". Britain's Got Talent. itv.com. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  6. "Tarbolton singer wows Britain's Got Talent". Ayrshire Post. Ayrshire: Scottish & Universal Newspapers. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  7. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Jai McDowall rejected by X Factor". Virgin Media. virginmedia.com. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  9. Taylor, Elle. "Amanda Holden Calls Jai McDowall The 'Dark Horse' Of BGT Final". entertainmentwise. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  10. Sheridan, Emily (6 May 2011). "Britain's Got Talent 2011: Jai McDowall beats Ronan Parke to win". Daily Mail. London: Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  11. Howie, Michael (30 May 2011). "Scottish care worker pips 12-year-old schoolboy to win Britain's Got Talent". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  12. Published Tuesday, 2 August 2011, 12:14 BST (2 August 2011). "'Britain's Got Talent' winner Jai McDowall finally secures record deal". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 March 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. "Council news - East Ayrshire Council". East-ayrshire.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  14. Ayrshire Council, East. "A night with Jai McDowall and friends". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  15. "Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall brings in Soundcheck Entertainment for personal PR". Prweek.com. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  16. Published Wednesday, 26 October 2011, 12:43 BST (26 October 2011). "'Britain's Got Talent's Jai McDowall announces debut album 'Believe'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 March 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. "Britain's Got Talent star Jai McDowall Believes new album will impress". Entertainment.stv.tv. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  18. "Jai McDowall - With or without you - China". YouTube. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  19. "BGT winner Jai McDowall dropped from Sony" Digital Spy 31 March 2012
  20. BGT 2011 winner Jai McDowall: Simon Cowell is anti-Scottish | Metro News
  21. 'Britain's Got Talent' winner Jai: 'Simon Cowell is anti-Scottish' - Britain's Got Talent News - Reality TV - Digital Spy
  22. Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall: Simon Cowell is anti-Scotish [sic] and I don't like him - Daily Record
  23. https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/07/britains-got-talent-viewers-livid-jai-mcdowall-misses-final-10704624/
  24. https://www.digitalspy.com/tv/reality-tv/a28950020/britains-got-talent-judges-simon-apology-jai-mcdowall/
  25. "Jai McDowall - Believe". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  26. "Scottish Albums Top 40 - 31st March 2012". Official Charts. Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  27. Jones, Alan (19 December 2011). "Official Album Chart Analysis: Buble's Christmas continues to increase sales". Music Week. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  28. http://www.officialcharts.com/scottish-singles-chart/
Preceded by
Winner of Britain's Got Talent
Succeeded by
Ashleigh and Pudsey
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