This Northern Irish singer was born Janet Maureen Aoife Ne Devlin on November 12, 1994 in the tiny village of Gortin, County Tyrone. Influenced from an early age by alternative acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, City & Colour, and Devendra Banhart, she spent much of her childhood, by her own admission, alone in her room writing music, but also performed well academically. After participating in a number of local talent contests and uploading cover versions to YouTube -- some of which racked up millions of views -- she decided to go to London and audition for the 2011 season of The X Factor.
Bearing a striking resemblance to actress Saoirse Ronan, the soft-spoken, mousy Devlin wowed the judges with her powerful, idiosyncratic delivery, eventually finishing in fifth place. She gained additional publicity when Courtney Love espoused her belief that Devlin was a distant relative of Kurt Cobain, some of whose ancestors had hailed from a town nearby, Gortin. Devlin herself put no stock in the notion. Although she failed to win a recording contract, she had developed enough of a fan base during her time on the show to crowdfund an album through the PledgeMusic website. Co-writing with big names like Newton Faulkner, Joshua Radin, and Jack Savoretti, she developed a catchy style of vaguely alternative acoustic pop/rock. Hide & Seek received a limited release to pledgers in 2013. Her follow-up and official "proper" debut album, Running with Scissors, dropped the following year through Insomnia Music. ~ John D. Buchanan