“The Voice” kicked off Season 12 last week with three nights of auditions. On Monday night, eight contestants made it through to the next round with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys and returning coach Gwen Stefani in her first appearance as Shelton’s official girlfriend.
Each week Talk Nerdy With Us gets a chance to participate in a roundtable interview with the contestants that made it through. There were a lot of people on this call and they had a lot to say about making it on a team. Here are some highlights from Lauren Duski and Brennley Brown from Team Blake, Johnny Hayes and Mark Isaiah from Team Adam, Anatalia Villaranda and Felicia Temple from Team Alicia and Stephanie Rice from Team Gwen.
Brennley, as one of the youngest artists on the show, how did you get on “The Voice” and what made you choose to sing Stupid Boy for your audition?
Brennley Brown: Well I’ve loved the show since I was very young. I’ve been watching it since I was about eight years old. And so I’ve always wanted to audition for “The Voice.” I think that the show lets you really be your own kind of artist, you know.
It doesn’t matter what you look like and that’s what I love about the show. You can really just be yourself. And I think the show has really allowed me to do that. It’s allowed me to be 14 years old and just to share my music and get to share my voice.
So I’m grateful for this opportunity. I think I chose “Stupid Boy” because I think it really relates to this generation in how some teenage girls feel, you know. And I felt like I could really relate to some girls my age and teenagers my age.
And I think that’s why I chose this song because it really could relate to their generation. You know, I’m all about going for your dreams no matter what age you are. And, you know, just believing in yourself. And I think that’s kind of one of those songs that makes you feel something.
And that’s what I wanted to do for my blind audition is just have people feel something in their heart and I think “Stupid Boy” is one of those songs. And so I was really excited to be able to sing it for my blind audition.
Like I said, I am 14, so it is a lot of pressure. A lot of nerves. But when I hit that stage, when I’m on that stage, it feels, I feel at home. I feel like it’s where I want to be for the rest of my life. You know, music is in my soul. It’s in my heart.
I’ve grown up with old school country music and it’s just what I want to do the rest of my life. And so a lot of people say, you know, you are only 14. Are you going to change your career in a few years? You’re not always going to want to do music.
But music is in my soul. It’s in my heart. It’s in my blood. And there’s nothing else I want to do with my life. So this, “The Voice” has really given me an opportunity to be able to share my voice and I’m really grateful for that.
Felicia, what it was like singing that duet with Alicia?
Felicia Temple: It was absolutely like a dream come true singing that duet with Alicia. Alicia Keys is literally the reason why I started playing piano in the first place. Her album came out and I was like, I have to be like her. I want to play the piano.
And I learned her entire album front to back by ear at 13 years old. Like that’s how I learned to play the piano. So “Fallin,” that was her first song ever. So to get to sing that song with her was like, I mean in a million years, of all the things you think you’re going to do, like I did not think that anything like that would ever happen to me. It was, I mean beyond anything I could have ever dreamed.
Anatalia, the last time we saw you on television, you were a contestant on another singing show. I’m curious what you’ve learned between that time and now that you think will help propel you further along through this competition?
Anatalia Villaranda: Oh yes. The previous competition that I was on, it was very devastating to me. It’s still really like heartbreaking like I feel like I wasn’t good enough for something. And it was that specific competition I was in. I was really bummed out a little bit. So I think definitely it did make me a stronger person and I really did learn from my mistakes.
And I think that everything happens for a reason and everything has its purpose. And I believe that it was an obstacle in my life that I just had to load the punches and really just believe in myself and just trust myself. And not stop and just keep on pushing forward no matter what.
And that was really a big thing in my life. It really changed my mindset on things and yes, it definitely helps me for the Voice because I think it gave me that little boost of confidence to just trust in myself and believe in myself that I can do this and, yes.
Lauren, talk a little bit about Northern Michigan, your background in Northern Michigan. And having a contestant from Northern Michigan just a few seasons ago, Joshua Davis compete, what does that mean to kind of have that support of Northern Michigan and have somebody that you probably followed who went before you?
Lauren Duski: You know, I could not be more proud and honored to be representing Michigan and especially Northern Michigan because it’s such a gem in my eyes. And it’s my favorite place in the world.
You know, outside of just the summers, you know, growing up there, I just know how lovely it is and the people and their support throughout, I mean even before this it’s been incredible but especially now.
I don’t think I ever felt more love in my life. And it’s definitely an honor to share this with another talented artist from Michigan as well and it’s just, it’s been very surreal. It’s definitely setting in now but it’s taken a little bit to really sink in.
But the entire community of Northern Michigan and the entire state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, everyone, has been insanely supportive and I’ve been crying since the beginning of the week. It’s been overwhelming. That’s for sure.
Stephanie, what type of backup have you gotten for sharing your story? I mean just the tweets from Shelly Clark have to be pretty special.
Stephanie Rice I was pretty apprehensive about sharing my story just because I had spent so many years building up strength to be who I was. And to be who I was, you know, without any apologies. I got comfortable in that place, you know. I got comfortable being who I am. And then I got to a place where I felt, okay, you know. And I felt led to, for the past few years I felt led to see if I could help other people because there was a time I didn’t ever feel I was going to be okay.
And my apprehension really stemmed from yes, I’m ready to help other people. I really hope I can. I really hope I have the capacity to do that and having the stage might give me that opportunity to not only share music but to possibly help someone who’s going through something like what I’m going through.
But it was also coupled by kind of an anxiety of fear. Dealing with rejection all over again, not just from my parents but maybe from, you know, America at large. It was scary. And I’ve received nothing but love. And especially from my hometown as well.
And, you know, I addressed them today and told them thank you so much for accepting me with open arms and without judgement. I wasn’t expecting to be showered with this much love. I’m not used to it I don’t think.
Can you talk about which coach you were hoping to win going into the blind auditions and then, why did you end up picking the coach you did?
Johnny Hayes: Since I started watching the show I mean I think Adam has always been kind of on the forefront of my mind because if I could pick a coach, once they added Alicia to Season 11, I was kind of interested in going that route because R&B is kind of the, I guess the base for me of kind of what I do and how I sing.
So I would have been happy with that but, you know, with Gwen being back this year I thought, you know, when she was talking, I was honestly oh man, I was almost there. So like should I go with her or should I go with Adam? And I liked looked over at my mom and she was like go with Adam.
So that’s kind of why initially I went with him but I just think he’s kind of a perfect fit as far as a coach goes for me. So yes, it was, you know, a whole lot of thinking involved. So just kind of, I’m hoping for the best this time.
Do you have some kind of game plan, a strategy? Ultimately this is a competition and you do want to be “The Voice” Season 12 winner right?
Mark Isaiah: Basically I’m on the same page as everyone else. I don’t really have a strategy. Basically my plan, I mean I just go up on the stage and, you know, show what I’ve got. You know, try to enjoy every moment on there. And, you know, take in those four coaches in front of the audience.
The audience really pumps me up and, just watching my family there supporting me all the way through really give me that confidence. So I just want to get that message out there that no matter what you do, how you look, just go up there and follow your dreams.
That’s basically the biggest message I have. Just follow your dream and make sure you know, don’t let anything just bring you down. And, you know, do what you got to do. And I’m enjoying every step of the way so far.