This week’s The Voice semi-final elimination resulted in four contestants leaving the competition.
Shalaya Fearing, the 16 year old R&B singer who was stolen from Christina Aguilera by Pharrell Williams and finally by Adam Levine.
Paxton Ingram is the dancer and R&B singer who surprisingly chose Blake Shelton over Christina and Pharrell in the Blind auditions.
Bryan Bautista. the former Brooklyn usher and Team Christina member who got no turns when he auditioned for season 9.
And Mary Sarah, the old school country singer who recorded a duets album in Nashville featuring big stars like Dolly Parton, but eventually lost her record contract.
All four eliminated singers answered questions from reporters in a conference call on Wednesday. Here’s what they had to say about their time on The Voice and what lies ahead for their musical careers.
Why did Bryan and Mary Sarah choose their Instant Save songs, “Adorn” by Miguel and “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood, respectively?
Bryan Bautista: I mean, it’s just a song that I loved, ever since I heard it. I love Miguel. I’ve always listed Miguel as one of my influences. The music directors [are] in close contact with us and they always ask us what would we like to sing. And they always offer suggestions and lists of songs. As soon as I saw Adorn by Miguel, I was connected to it. I felt like it was a good opportunity to sing another one of my influences on the show.
Mary Sarah: I love Carrie Underwood obviously. You can tell on the show she has been an influence in my life for quite a while. When this song came out, Something in the Water, I was in love with it. And have been singing it for quite a while. Just like Bryan said, we were given a list of songs and stuff and I saw that one on there and thought you know what? If anything, I want to do a song that is, somewhat Christian because, I wouldn’t be here without God in my life. It had been a little stressful in some places. And, it’s his plan not mine. So, to go out worshipping like that was pretty cool. And, it was something I knew I wouldn’t regret. I love the song and have been really proud of myself throughout this whole entire journey.
What will each of your nexts steps be in your music career? What type of music would you like to make?
Bryan Bautista: I see myself as contemporary artist. I love the songs that are out now and I love the vibe of music that I’m hearing on the radio today, and some underground stuff, too. I would just love to be a contemporary artist that’s like pop, soul, and R&B. Anything that I would sing I would bring a soulful aspect to it. I’ve worked to try to basically stay true to who I am on the show so all of my song selections basically reflect the type of artist that I want to be.
Paxton Ingram: I’m a huge lover of pop music. That’s my biggest foundation. The type of album I would make would be a glorious pop album with a lot of soul. Yes. It would be cool.
Mary Sarah: Being on the show–you definitely see the type of artist I really want to be. I tried to mix the contemporary country music and the traditional country music together because I’m a fan of both and was raised listening to both, that’s definitely the type of artist I’d like to be. And as far as moving forward I hope to maybe strike a label deal or even [sign with] an agency and get on the road and be able to visit the fans that I’ve made on the show and thank them for their support.
Mary Sarah has already released a good deal of music. Does she see her sound changing as a result of her time on The Voice?
Mary Sarah: I have grown a lot as an artist and have really dived into different things and been around a lot of different things. I would say it would be a little bit different but still with the same feel. I feel like as an artist you’re always growing so it’s never going to be the same thing, It’s definitely not going to be the exact same of what I’ve already released. I’m pretty excited about that.
Shalyah Fearing: I definitely want to start writing music and put out an album. I love R&B so I definitely want to put out an R&B album. I’m really young but I know that because of that, I have a long career ahead of me. I just can’t wait to go to the places where my fans are and visit and tour.
Will Shalyah be sticking with her family band or going solo?
Shalyah Fearing: I am going to be going solo but I’m definitely going to keep my band intact. Wherever I go, they’ll go with me. But I definitely want to do a solo thing.
How did each contestant deal with their eliminations? Where they surprised? What did their respective coaches say to them?
Shalyah Fearing: It’s not exciting to be eliminated. But I feel like making it to the semifinals, top eight, we were already winners. It was hard being eliminated because you always want to strive to do your best and you want to move on. But I’m not upset about it because I’ve learned so much and this is just the beginning of my journey. I just take it as a learning experience and I’m happy.
Paxton Ingram: I think I speak for all of us when I say this — when we went in for top eight, it was like we all went in there in like full battle mode, beast mode, preparing for our last time on that stage. It does suck being eliminated but we all knew our time was going to come regardless. And there’s only one more week left of the show. That’s how the game rolls. Four people must go home. When you do get eliminated it’s like snap, I’m going home. But look how far I made it. My God, a semifinalist! I was definitely not as sad as I thought I was going to be. It was happy, full and grateful for the opportunity and just excited about the future. It was a really cool feeling.
Mary Sarah: Monday night I think all of us we really tried to focus on that night and that night only, knowing the cut was happening the next day. I feel like we all gave our best Monday night. And then Tuesday–I think going into it I had no expectations. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and either way I was completely happy–even proud of all of us and proud of myself for making it as far as we did. Top eight is an incredible achievement for all of us. This is just a door, a big door that’s opened for the rest of our lives. We have opportunities now that we wouldn’t have had before. Either way the night was going to go–I am extremely humbled and blessed by the whole experience and opportunity. I wouldn’t take a single moment back. Even after being eliminated, I had a moment where I cried but then I thought, you know what? This isn’t the end for any of us because everybody is so overwhelmingly talented and everybody deserves to be there and no matter who was in the top four. Everybody deserved to be there. I’m just blessed to have done what I’ve done.
Bryan Bautista: Last night after being eliminated I wasn’t really down at all. There’s always the desire to go on and progress to the next round. But after it was all said and done, I felt really relieved and honestly feel like that’s the best top eight that the show has ever seen.
Paxton Ingram: I’m tearing up.
Bryan Bautista: I feel like everyone is a winner and destined for greatness. After last night, the four that didn’t make i–us four–we’re now given the opportunity to like be set free and spread our wings and become true artists. It is a competition and you’re only allowed so much artistic creativity on the show. But now you [can] see us in our truest form as artists and creators. I was really relieved–I just thought about that and not about being eliminated. This chapter closes for everyone. There’s only one winner. At the end of the day, I saw it as me closing a chapter to a long book that I’m writing for myself. I’ll be okay. I feel like I had a lot of fun out there last night, so I was cool.
What was it like for Shalyah to be mentored by three different coaches on three different teams? (Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and finally, Adam Levine). Which one did you feel was the best fit for you based on your strengths and weaknesses? Was there a part of you that wanted to prove to your former coaches week to week that they made a mistake in letting you go?
Shalyah Fearing: I have been with almost every coach on the show. And I can’t really compare them. They’re all different. They teach differently. But they’re all very awesome and like amazing coaches. But I’d have to say Adam [was the best fit] because he knew what to say to me. He knew what to do and what kind of person I was. I’m a perfectionist and everything for me has to be perfect, and he told me that it’s not possible–just go out there on the stage and give it your all and give your best performance. But honestly, I’d say it was a little [hard] being stolen like [that] over and over again, and switch from different teams. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Wow, do I belong here? Do they want me to stay on their team?” That’s why every performance I had and every performance I did, I gave it my best. It was just like, “Hey, here I am. This is what you gave away.” I’m proud of myself and happy to learn from three different coaches. I can say that I’ve worked with Pharrell, Christina Aguilera, and Adam Levine. And that is amazing.
How will life change for sixteen year old Shalyah when she returns back to school and her regular lifestyle?
Shalyah Fearing: Well, that’s a good question. But I’ve actually been doing school here. I did school every day. It’s not going to be difficult going back to school. I’m home schooled so I do everything on my laptop and I get it done. It’s pretty cool because I walked across the street today to get something to eat and so many people recognized me! I was so happy to know that people care and know me and I just–it’s not going to end. This is the beginning of my journey and I’ve already started talking to some–I don’t want to say who–but I have been talking to some people. And I know that I’m going to be signed. And it’s going to be great. Honestly, this is just the start of my career and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
What is the best piece of advice given to Mary Sarah and Paxton by their coach Blake Shelton?
Mary Sarah: When [Blake] has an artist, he throws himself fully into every artist–he really did with both of us. Him and I had very similar voices. Every time I went in to work with him, the same things that I struggled with a lot of the time he struggled with, too in his voice. So it was amazing to get to work through things [with him]. He understood my voice in every way and supported me 100%. Getting to talk on and off camera with him was absolutely amazing. And he was one of the best coaches–he is the best coach ever. I could not be more thankful than to have worked with him.
Paxton Ingram: Same here. Every single time we went into rehearsal with him, it’s like you learned something new every single time. He was the ultimate coach and knew how to let us be ourselves–which I think is very important. He never really tried to alter anything about us. He just navigated where he thought we should go–but fully allowed us to be ourselves. I thought that was just an amazing way to grow. To see the way he trusted me made me trust myself even more and it was really cool. I’m forever grateful for him for that.
Did the any of the finalists have regrets? If there was any one thing they could have done differently in their respective The Voice journeys, what would it be?
Shalyah Fearing: When we auditioned for this show in the Blind auditions, our producer told us to go out there on that stage and give it all we’ve got every time so that whenever we do go home, we have no regrets. And I have absolutely no regrets [about] my performances. I feel like I gave it my all every single time. I left that stage with no regrets. Thank God.
Mary Sarah: Dang it. Just as Shalyah said, we have been reminded from the beginning to lay it out there. When picking songs do a song you know you wouldn’t regret. Our coaches helped us with that and the whole Voice crew helped us with that. Looking back I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m pretty proud of myself for the song choices and proud of everybody who has helped me along the way. I couldn’t have done this without the help of everybody on The Voice. I wouldn’t take a single thing. I loved every single part of this journey and I’ve grown so much through it.I’m very thankful for it.
Paxton Ingram: Same. Just piggybacking off of what Shalyah and Mary Sarah both said–you go on that stage every week. Even since the blinds, every time you hit that stage, you’re not knowing when your last chance will be. You don’t know if you’re going to make it on the next week. You don’t even know if you’re going to make it past the battle, if you’re going on a team, if you’re going to make it past your knockout. Every time I hit that stage, it was like–balls to the wall. I’m giving it all I got. Here I am. There I go. And I feel like in doing that I have zero regrets. No regrets. Nothing. I did everything I wanted to do because I went up there and I gave it my all every single time.
Bryan Bautista: The one thing I will say that I regret is probably not giving you a little bit of salsa steps and meringue in addition to my bachata! But that’s probably the only thing I regret. Honestly on a serious note, I had so much fun.I’m proud of myself [for staying true to] who I was as an artist, because you’re able to look at yourself in the mirror and be happy with the person that’s looking back when you do that. I’m pretty excited about everything I’ve done. I’m going to take a couple of days to reflect on everything that transpired from last season, to the Blind auditions of this season, all the way up until now. I’m happy with everything that transpired and I can’t wait for the future. This is an incredible beginning to all of our careers. What more could you ask for? I really have no regrets.
Bryan auditioned for season 9 and didn’t turn a chair. This time he made it to top 8. Why did he go farther this time? Also, in his performance of Hurt Monday night, he allowed himself to be vulnerable. Was it easier or harder to be eliminated after opening himself up and revealing his strained relationship with his father?
Bryan Bautista: To answer your first question about season nine–not making it onto season nine was the best thing that ever happened to me because I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I learned so much about myself as a person and as an artist throughout this whole journey on season ten. Like, working under pressure, and building that confidence and that swagger that every artist needs. Every artist has a swagger when they’re performing. I was able to hone in on that working with Christina. I feel like I attribute everything that I learned to working with Christina and me being humble and working hard.
As far as my vulnerable performance on Monday, I just felt confident enough as a performer to take on a performance like that. It’s hard to tap into those emotions when you’re a performer fresh out the gate. It’s hard to tap into those emotions only because you’re thinking about technical things–staging and movements and hitting a certain note or how you’re singing. But once you’ve been on the show for so long, I feel like I can speak for everyone when I say we’re actually comfortable on that stage at this point. I felt like it was my time to give a vulnerable performance like that because I could focus on the emotions instead everything else.
Paxton had three coaches turn around for him in the Blind auditions and he chose Blake, which was a little bit of a surprising choice considering he’s a country star. What made him pick Blake? Did he have a hands-on role in helping Paxton pick songs? Or did he have a laid back approach and support his decisions?
Paxton Ingram: Me picking Blake during the Blinds was the wildest decision I’ve ever made It wasn’t preplanned. I didn’t strategize it. It was just something that organically happened because of what he told me–how quick he turned around, just the words. He sold it and just I couldn’t ignore him calling me greatness. I felt like that opened a role for some magical stuff to happen. Going into rehearsals I noticed that we’re like kindred spirits, you know? He’s such a bright, lovely spirit and makes people comfortable and makes people laugh. He’s a joy to be around. And that’s something that I admire and that I want to be and that I strive to be in my life. Going into rehearsals was always fun. We were laughing. But when we got down to business, he allowed me to be myself. There was so much trust between the both of us. He allowed me to [choose my songs], when there was a couple of song choices. He would deny some songs, give me the reasons why and then I would bring back another song and he would 100% love and support it. In rehearsals he was very hands on–making sure that it was perfect. It was really cool. He always challenged me, pushed me to the next level every single week.
Mary Sarah had the biggest social media following of all the contestants. Was she surprised she ended up eliminated?
Mary Sarah: I do have a very large social media following. And I’m so thankful because The Voice boosted that so much more. But going into it, I honestly did not have any expectations. I believe that everybody is here for a reason and because every single one of us–they’re so talented. We all deserve to be here and whoever wins deserves to win. Going into yesterday night, like I had no clue who was going to make it and who wasn’t because we all gave so many amazing performances. I didn’t expect anything last night. You hope for the best, expect the worst. Last night went the way it was supposed to go and that’s all in God’s plan. I’m just thankful to have made it so far.
Now that all four have been through the process and learned so much, what one piece of advice would they give to next year’s contestants or anyone thinking of auditioning for The Voice?
Mary Sarah: As an artist, it’s always hard to live by your own advice, but I’ve tried very hard to do that throughout this entire journey. And the one thing I would say is you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone to grow. And, looking at the challenges [going into] The Voice, I realized it was going to be a long process and a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be willing to take that step and have that faith and just push towards your dream and work hard at it. Another thing that I always say is hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard. I would recommend this show to any artist. It is a wonderful show and I’ve grown so much. I feel like I know what [my] future in the music industry [is going to be like]. Take a step of faith, and put yourself out there and get into that uncomfortable place to grow.
Paxton Ingram: My advice would be to just always remember what your intention is — why you sing, why you perform, why you make music. Never lose sight of your intention–what made you start this whole thing. Because once you get into the competition or when it starts to become a competition, that can’t be your ultimate motivation. You have to have another motivation. Why do you do what you do? I feel like that will propel you even further in life–not only in the show but just in life. Always remember your intentions and your biggest competition is yourself. That is it. As long as you can outdo yourself each week, you’re okay.
Bryan Bautista: Man, the biggest thing is always stay true to yourself. I know I say it a lot, but it’s so important because once you do that, you’re able to leave the competition with no regrets. Always give it 100% and always stay true to yourself. As much as you can, always prepare. Hone in on your craft, polish your craft. If you’re a piano player–piano players they put in hours on the piano to be successful at playing piano. Just the same as a vocalist. When you have to go out there on a strenuous schedule like we have–especially during the live shows– you have to take care of your voice and make sure you’re making it better, you know? So stay true to yourself, work on your craft, and always give it 1000% when you go out there. Then you’ll be able to leave with no regrets.
Shalyah Fearing: My piece of advice would be never give up. I know I say it a lot, but it really is very important. There are going to be so many people in your life who tell you you can’t do something or tell you you can’t go far. You can’t listen to them. You have to believe in yourself and go on with your [singing] career if that’s what you want to do in life. I went through open call and I stood out there in that cold and in that long line and made it through. And the top eight semifinals? It’s all because I didn’t give up and I kept faith in myself no matter how many times I’ve been [stolen] or been tossed around, I just kept going because this is what I want to do with my life. And so my advice to anyone who wants to audition for the show, or any period in their life–never ever give up. That’s all.
After the Elimination