Earlier this week, reporters had the opportunity to speak with The Voice season 15 contestants who earned spots on one of Team Blake Shelton, Team Adam Levine, Team Kelly Clarkson or Team Jennifer Hudson. Check out interviews with singers who appeared on Tuesday’s (Oct 3) Blind Auditions 4 episode.
SandyRedd – Thirty-five year old SandyRedd from Chicago is like a modern day Tina Turner who describes her genre as “rock soul.” Her electrifying performance of Bishop Brigg’s “River” earned her a 4 chair turn. But not even throwing her shoe and hailing from Chicago could entice Sandy to choose Jennifer as her coach. Instead, the singer chose Team Kelly.
Can you tell us what went through your head when you had the four-chair turn and how you went about selecting Kelly?
I love and respect every last one of the coaches on the panel and I have so many things that I admire about each and every one of them. But I’m a very spiritual person and I’m always led by God. I felt like everything that Kelly was saying to me–[she] mentioned the rock and the soul that she felt coming from me–my genre is rock-soul. Not wanting to put me in a box–and [saying] that she didn’t care who I picked because she just wanted to continue to see me move on in the actual show. [She] showed me that she was coming from a very genuine, very selfless place. Everything she was saying to me just led me to her.
You mix elements of different genres like rock and soul together. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your musical influences?
My first and foremost musical influence is definitely my mom. My foundation comes from our gospel background. I grew up on the Clark Sisters and BeBe and CeCe Winans and all of the gospel greats.
I grew up, listening to people like Michael Jackson and, Tina Turner and those musical forces I feel that changed the atmospheres of a place or a room or were able to exude emotion out of their music. Those were the kind of people that I’m influenced by the most–Whitney Houston and people like that.
Do you have any favorite rock performers?
I actually do not have any favorite rock and roll performers. I just love the energy that rock music gives across-the-board and that’s part of the reason why I choose to do rock-soul. And it’s not about it being actual rock music because what I do is soul music that’s delivered in, sort of, a rock-style energy.
Which coach were you hoping to work with going into your blind audition? Were you close to choosing a different coach until Kelly made that one comment that had a really big impact on you?
My heart was definitely set on Jennifer because I look up to her. We are both from Chicago and we do have a lot in common. Our backgrounds are extremely similar and I have so much love and respect for her journey and her story.
It was between Jennifer and Kelly in my mind but I was definitely leaning towards Jennifer at first walking on the stage. I deal in moments and why I’m led and at that moment, led me to Kelly.
Would you say it was purely an emotional decision to join Kelly’s Team? Or was there any strategy involved?
Not at all. I’m a firm believer that what God has for me is for me. I feel like all the teams have extremely dynamic performers that are all just as good as I am.
And so there was no strategy involved in my decision. I felt like everything that Kelly said out of her mouth and the genuine nature that it came from–it felt right. It felt that’s where I was supposed to be at that time.
What went into the selection of that particular song (River by )?
I really wanted to focus on songs that I haven’t touched before, that I wasn’t familiar with. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and show that I could do something that people that are already familiar with me hadn’t seen me try. So I wanted to give myself a challenge and I felt like River was definitely a song that was up my alley.
It took a lot of practice and a lot of going back and forth on different ideas of ways to execute it.
You’ve been performing for a while. What led you to The Voice at this point?
I have been performing for quite some time. But when I first started I was very green, I was very nervous, I had no showmanship and I was all over the place. I had no look. I was just not ready. I was extremely afraid. But my desire to sing was bigger than my fears so I started doing open mics and any karaoke or anything I could get my hands on music-wise.
I feel like I’m ready now. So when the opportunity to do The Voice came about, it just felt like the right time.
MaKenzie Thomas – The 20 year old singer returned to The Voice after her season 14 audition resulted in no turns from the coaches. This time, Jennifer was moved to hit her button after MaKenzie performed Big White Room by Jessie J. Adam called her improvement from last season “tremendous.”
What was different for you auditioning for The Voice this time around?
I can say that I was actually ready for my audition. I was ready to be in that spotlight. Last season – I was still kind of nervous about performing. I still have pretty bad stage-fright but being on national television once already, it’s really helped me conquer that fear a little bit. It really lessened it and I feel like the practice and just being more prepared and knowing what I was going into really helped out.
Where are you hoping this leads you? What are your musical goals?
I’m a huge Tori Kelly fan and I’m a really big fan of gospel music as well. And She recently put out an album that is a gospel album; she did it with Kirk Franklin. So, gospel music but with a twist on it-something a little bit more acoustic [is] up my alley. Mainly my goal is to be able to minister to people.
Did you have an idea in your head of who you wanted to turn around or were you just hoping that this time that you would have a chair turn?
That’s actually a really good question because I’ve been asked that a lot and my answer pretty well stays the same throughout.
Going into it I was hoping just for somebody to turn. But a couple of days before my audition I was trying to get in the mindset that I needed to be [in] when getting on that stage. So I started what I call speaking things into existence. My heart wanted Jennifer. That’s who I really wanted to turn more than anybody else.
So for like three days I spoke that into existence. I was like, ‘Jennifer’s going to turn. Jennifer’s going to turn. It’s my time,’ you know? I don’t really know how else to say that other than speaking it into existence–kind of like a mantra. Jennifer [was] who my heart was set on and so when she turned I was ecstatic.
Reagan Strange – 13 year old Reagan is the youngest contestant on the show. Having watched the show growing up, the young singer auditioned as soon as she was old enough. Her performance of Meant to Be by Bebe Rexha. Blake and Adam fought for her. And although it appeared Blake had it in the bag, Reagan chose Team Adam.
You’re one of the youngest contestants in the competition. You got on stage and you didn’t seem frightened. Do you think your pageant past kind of played into that? What do you think played into your confidence on stage?
It is going on stage and knowing that my voice can sometimes make people smile and that just encourages me to do my best and really nail it up there.
Where do you see this ending for you?
I would hope to let people hear my voice and to get my music out there. If that leads to fame that’s a really great thing for me but really I want people to hear my voice and my message.
I want to spread joy with my music. I don’t want to spread any sort of hate. I want it to be purely joy and I want to put a smile on people’s faces.
Why did you decide to try out for The Voice at such a young age?
I have been watching the show since Season 1. I was about 6 or 7 years old. I had always envisioned myself on that stage and it’s always been my dream. As soon as they lowered the age to 13 thought, now is my time. I decided to fill an online submission out and once I saw that they wanted to see me for a private call that is when I knew–this is my time-I’m going to do my best and see what happens.
Once I ended up making it on that stage for the Blind Audition is when I knew that this is meant to be. It kind of went along with my song choice anyway. I knew that although I am so young it was my time.
Why did you choose Adam as your coach?
I originally went in wanting either Blake or Kelly, and my heart was really, really set on Blake. But when I got on stage and I heard the words that Adam said, my gut feeling was telling me, Adam.
What’s it like to be able to represent Memphis and our music to not only Los Angeles while you’re out there but also, America as a whole?
Memphis really has a music root to it. And when I went out to LA for this audition I knew in some way I had to represent my home.
With my voice, I want to show the world that Memphis is still striving with music. I w just show them that even though I am so young – I can still go out there and represent Memphis the best I can.
The blind auditions are only the beginning of a very long and stressful journey with long hours and a lot of scrutiny from fans. At this stage in the game, given your young age, were you intimidated by any of that?
I had prepared myself for what I knew was going to happen. Walking into this, I was told by my mom and my family, they said, “it’s going to be a lot going into this and there will be times where it is stressful.” But I knew I was ready for it and this was something that I’ve always wanted. And so mentally, I was ready and I was really excited for it.
So waking up knowing that I have fans and people that are there to support me keeps me going even more than before so I really truly enjoy it.
As a young person, how do you juggle your time management in regard to your academics and your rehearsing and performance? How do you manage your time?
I’ve started home schooling this year and that has helped so much to keep me on schedule with my school work.
And in the past, I even made sure I always got my school work done before I would go to any of my practices and all of my lessons. But this year, really it’s all about scheduling and organizing for me.
I’ve had to lay everything out and almost do a to do list for every single day just to make sure I was getting my priorities straight. After I had completed all of that, I made sure everything that is important to me got done first. Education and family are very important to me and so is singing. But I just make sure I get everything out and I lay it out to make sure I get it all done.
Is there anything that you feel you are missing out on as a teenager? Proms and football games–anything of that nature that you can say I’m missing out on this but it’s worth it?
Honestly, I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for this opportunity. As far as football games and getting to go to a movie every once in a while–of course I miss things like that. But this incredible opportunity arose for me and it’s something that I’ve wanted for so long and the fact that I have it, I never want to complain about anything ever again.
When Kelly mentioned that Adam didn’t have anyone country on his team, did that sway you a little bit to want to be on his team? And also, Are you going to perform more of any other genres like pop or soul on the show?
As for my genre, I have more reach to the pop-soul vibe of music. I got to do pop-country in my audition– later in the show, I can spread out to my true genre.
Fousheé – The 28 year old singer’s mother was a drummer in an all girl reggae band back in Jamaica. Performing at the Cafe Wha? in New York City among an eclectic group of talented musicians influenced her own wide-ranging style. Her performance of Childish Gambino’s Redbone got turns from Jennifer and Adam, but she chose Team Adam.
Everybody seemed surprised that you chose Adam as your coach. Could you talk a little bit about why you did that?
It was a really hard choice in the moment. I remember watching the last season and I really thought if I were to go on the show I would pick Alicia Keys. So when they announced the new judges I knew that Adam would be the closest pick for me for the genre that I want to be in and with the type of music that I wanted to sing.
But of course Jennifer – I grew up listening to her. I was a big fan of hers so it was a hard choice. But I really connect with Adam’s career the most. I felt like he would understand who I was as an artist creatively. Because I do identify as a singer but as an artist first. Songwriting is a big part of it for mek so I admire that about him and his music.
Could you talk a little bit about your musical influences?
It’s just a melting pot of so many different things. But where I sing right now, where I have my residency, it’s a place called Café Wha? Every musician comes from a different background of music. We have from Latin to Jazz to Blues to Rock and Soul, of course. I grew up listening to R&B and my mom, she was a big Bob Marley fan being from Jamaica and was a mix of so many different things.
As I started doing music, I felt like my music was a mix of everything. It wasn’t just one thing so I kind of gravitate towards artists who incorporate a lot of different sounds in their music.
If the Fousheé of this moment could go back and sit in front of this Fousheé, and perhaps her darkest moments for lack of a better word, what would she speak to her? What would she say to encourage her?
That’s a good question. I think I would just tell her to keep her head up and keep working regardless because you have to have faith when there’s nothing there to make faith of. You have to make faith out of empty space. So I’ll just tell her regardless of what you see and what you think is possible, keep working and putting in the effort and the hard work. There’s going be light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t stop. I would tell her that you’re perfect with all your imperfections. I would tell her that being different is beautiful and to embrace it.
How did that moment feel for you on The Voice when you were finally there on stage?
I don’t know how to explain it. I just felt like there was no one just like me who had made it to a platform like that.
I’m from a little town in New Jersey and there were so many obstacles that would’ve made anyone stop. And there were so many times that I wanted to quit and stop because I’m an introvert. Because of lack of money; because of my age…because of, oh, many different things.
To finally make it on that stage, I felt like I already won regardless of what the outcome was. It was so powerful. It was so beautiful. And to know that people at home would be watching that and then I was so proud. I felt like I was representing New York, New Jersey, Jamaica. I just felt proud.
Chris Kroeze – Chris is raising his family in the same small Illinois town where he grew up. The 27 year old’s “electrifying” performance of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Pride and Joy earned chair turns from Jennifer and Blake. Ultimately, the singer and guitar player choose Team Blake. (Due to telephone issues, the reporters only got one question answered).
Did Jennifer really stand a chance of becoming your coach or did you have your heart set on Blake? And how did it feel to hear Blake say that you could make it to the finale this season?
I don’t know. I don’t want to say she didn’t have a chance but it wasn’t a very big chance. Nothing against her music or anything like that I just have a lot more in common with Blake. And yes, that felt cool. It is something everybody wants to hear and it’s just cool to hear it said for you–a definite confidence booster.