The Voice – Voice Premiere Night One

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By: Jamie Steinberg


Q) What did you do to prepare for being on the premiere episode? And what did you learn? This is for anyone that wants to answer.



Stephanie Rice:     Okay, thank you. Well for one, I was pretty much in shock when I heard. I was just mainly struggling with, nervous about telling my story to the world and how the world was going to react to it. And developed enough thick skin about it. But it was kind of scary to just kind of, you know, put it out there for all the world to have their views and opinions on it. So what I did is I just mentally tried to prepare for any negativity and I just kept telling myself that if it could help one person that is the exact reason why I decided to tell my story. And that mattered more than anything else that people could have, you know, had said towards me negatively. And then I just kind of surrounded myself with, you know, my family and my fiancé who, they kind of just kept reassuring me that, you know, I did the right thing. So I guess, I hope that answers your question.


Lauren Duski:   I guess for me it took a lot of mental focus and kept like trying to force myself to practice as much as possible but not to think about it too much, yAnd just, you know, before getting up on stage, the key for me was, I just kept telling myself over and over that no matter what happens, go up there and do your best. And sing from the heart. And if it resonates with the artist, then I hope with the coaches then, you know, that’s what really matters to me.  And yes, it seemed to all of us to be a very successful night in that regard. So it was definitely an honor to share the stage with everyone and yes, I think we’re all still beaming from last night.



Mark Isaiah:   I mean yesterday was a crazy night. As you could see we’re getting so many followers and such, it’s been crazy. But to prepare for blind it was like such a long process. Like there was so much you had to keep in mind. And especially for me. I’m not someone to be performing out on stage in front of so many people because I’ve struggle with my confidence back in the past. And like, so it was pretty hard for me to do it. But eventually though I got through and it was mentally. So I just had to prepare myself and to say I have to do this. This is what I want to do. Music is my life. So I just got up there and did my best. My family supported me 100% always and it was just, it was an amazing feeling, you know, seeing the crowd and then watching those, our coaches just like really saying nice stuff about me and enjoying my performance. T was just amazing.



Johnny Hayes:    I mean to do it two times in the same year, I think that definitely helped me. Obviously the mental preparation was like, for me it’s about 80% of what goes into what we do because everybody is good.  Obviously you need it but being mentally prepared, focused, strong helped me a lot. It was a lot of reading and self-centering to kind of prepare myself for the moment and then kind of reminding myself and keeping in mind it was just another performance and I just want to treat it like that for me.  And obviously it’s just a special performance so it’s a little bit different. But I just wanted to push the least amount of pressure on myself as possible because I think that’s where I went wrong last time.



Anatalia Villaranda:   I just wanted to say that to prepare for the auditions, I just had a lot bundled up in me. And I was just like really excited to just like go onstage and give it my all. And really I did have the mental state where I was like freaking out a little bit because like I practiced like so much. And so like I’m still a high school student, like that kind of stuff. It was just like all over the place like I had to beat myself I guess.   I guess I was more excited to just give it my all and just do what I love to do really honestly, the passion. And I was just super excited. I think that was really important to my performance because no matter what happens that I was going to be happy and I was going to give it like 110% onstage and, yes.



Brennley Brown:  I just, I would say, you know, kind of like the other artists have been saying. A lot of preparation goes into your blind audition and I think I was feeling a bit nervousness and also excitement. And I really had to just ground myself in my faith. I remember we were up in a hotel room. So I just remember going up in my room and just, kind of like Lauren Duski said, just practicing ad rehearsing as much as I could knowing all that I could do is my best. And just to get up on that stage and give it my all. And, you know, as a 14 year old, it was a lot of pressure and a lot of nerves.  But I’m so glad I did it. You know, it was like one of those life moments where you’re like I got to do that. And I went for it and I gave it my all. And I just had a lot of faith in my moment. And it took a lot of courage but more excitement than nerves tied that day.



Q) Brennley Brown,  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 know. 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, for my blind audition because it really, I think it really, 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, you know, 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, you know, from 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. And, you know, like I said, I am 14.   So it is a lot of pressure. A lot of nerve. 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, you know. Are you going to change your career in a few years, you know? 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.



Q) Lauren, how long have you lived in Northern Michigan? And how did living here in Northern Michigan impact your singing career?


Lauren Duski:       Well I was born in Moonstone Way. Well I was born there so I should say. When I was one my family, you know, both my parents are from Michigan. My dad’s from the Upper Peninsula and my mom’s from outside of Detroit. So they were based in the Air Force in Maine and then when I was one we moved back to Michigan.   So I grew up there. I spent 18 years in Northern Michigan. And then I completed my undergrad at the University of Michigan. Got my Bachelors of Science there and then, you know, to be completely honest, what was great, I’ve been singing country music since I was little.   And being from a small town in Northern Michigan, you know, country music kind of roots at least my hometown and so any radio station, any major station in Northern Michigan was normally country. And for me that was perfect. The community was always incredibly supportive and but I was always told like your voice doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of what we’re looking for, for like the community productions and the (cedar) productions for schools. So I was involved in a lot of the community productions and everyone has always been so supportive.    But I think as far as country music goes, it was kind of a blessing to be up there in Northern Michigan. And I was definitely travelling around as a kid with a country band opening up for some bigger name artists. So that was for me when I knew I was hooked to being onstage and to being a performer.  Because I always knew I loved to sing but I think what did it for me was opening up for lone star Randy Travis and getting up there at nine and I remember looking out and like, what am I doing? But this was incredible. Like what is happening, like?  I just love to sing and I think I held onto that and I’m so glad I did and that I was raised in Northern Michigan. It was definitely a blessing.



Q) Felicia, I just wanted to ask you, 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 alum front to back by ear at 13 years old. Like that’s how I learned to play the piano. So to 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.


Q)  Anatalia, I wanted to ask you, the last time we saw you on television, you were a contestant on another singing show. And 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 in, 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.



Q) Lauren, I’m wondering you had some options with who you wanted to choose as or coach. Did you make up your mind beforehand if Blake wanted you that you’d go with him? What went into that decision?


Lauren Duski:       You  think you know what you want to do before you get up on stage. And, you know, my roots have always been in country music. So, you know, I was torn between Gwen and Blake initially. And leading more towards Blake always but.  And then Adam turned around first and he started saying some really kind things. So it made it really difficult but, no, I had to go with my heart and that’s ultimately why I picked Blake.
Q)  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:  I could not be more proud and honored to be representing Michigan and especially Northern Michigan. And because it’s such a gem in my eyes. And it’s my favorite place in the world. 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.


Q) The goal is obviously to win the competition. But what else do you hope to gain to this experience on The Voice?


Lauren Duski:   I think, being a platform on this show, it really forces you to channel all of your strengths. And, you know, getting up on a stage like that and knowing you’re performing not only for four of the most incredible artists in music, but for millions of people watching, I think it’s a lot of pressure but at the same time like you learn a lot about yourself through that pressure.  And you find yourself following and trusting yourself a lot more than you, at least tor me, than I ever expected to. And I feel like feeling that connection with the coaches while you’re singing and with the audience and getting that feedback, you know, after the performance last night has been just incredible.



Q) Are you from Gaylord, Lauren? I know you graduated from there. Is that where you’re from?



Lauren Duski:       Yes, I actually attended Interlochen  too. That’s the, my connection. I chose the Jewel song because not only, I think she’s an insane songwriter and artist but we have that Interlochen Northern Michigan connection too so it was definitely rooted in my song choice as well.




Q) Felicia, I had another question for you actually about North Jersey and how growing up in this area affects your music? And what kind of response have you been getting? I know you tweeted earlier today that patient at the hospital have been recognizing you.


Felicia Temple:     Yes, well I’ve been involved in North Jersey my whole life and I was born in Englewood and mostly raised in Teaneck. And, you know, I’m a town girl. And even my dad, you know even with his work – even with him going out with the Sugarhill Gang, his day job was to be an Englewood police officer. So we’re very much, my mom used to work for Englewood City Hall.   So I’d been here my whole life and it was so cool because Alicia Keys was just you know, a hop, skip and a jump, you know, right across the George Washington Bridge. She was raised in Harlem so, you know, anyone knows when you live in North Jersey, a lot of people spend a lot of their time in the city because it’s so close.  So I just felt like we that kind of, you know, city vibe New York connection. And it’s been crazy. I’m literally at work right now on lunch and I’ve had a couple of patients. Like I’m putting in their IVs today and they’re like, I won’t tell anybody but I know who you are.   You’re the girl who was on The Voice last night. Oh my God, you’re really a nurse. Like they, it’s actually, who you’re entertaining. I have taken multiple selfies with patients today with the families and their kids and they think it’s really, really cute. And I think it’s cute.  It’s weird. You know, I’m used to just being a regular floor nurse, you know, they’re in. They’re out. They’re getting surgery, coming back from surgery. And people are like, oh my God, you’re the girl form t last night. So I’m getting some very interesting reactions to people who didn’t think I was actually a real nurse.


Q)  And Alicia was also the coach to We McDonald who placed third last season. She’s from Patterson. So a lot of Jersey Team Alicia stuff going on. Did you know that?


Felicia Temple:     Yes, I actually know We McDonald and her father. Yes. I actually know them and my father knows her mother very well because her mother works for the city of Englewood as well. So it’s definitely, it’s a small world. So, you know, I knew her when she was doing the Apollo and it was so crazy when she popped up on last season. I was like, oh my God, that’s We. And it’s been really interesting. So North Jersey represents.


Q) Have you heard from your family since your audition here or since this whole process began because I know the blind auditions were filmed a while ago?


Stephanie Rice:     I have not. I have not heard from my parents. But I have received a lot of support from aunts and uncles that I haven’t heard from, you know, in a long time. And my brother made a Facebook post today that I thought was, it brought me to tears. He was saying that, he was saying that for a long time, you know, the family was, if they were supportive of me, they were supportive of me quietly. And that might have been just mentally supportive but maybe not necessarily reaching out or being public about it for their own personal decisions. And he said in his post that, you know, by me kind of telling the story publically, it’s causing a lot of my family members to have their own coming out in a sort of way.   And everyone’s been way, for whatever reason, everyone’s just, I don’t know, it almost kind of solidified. And because everyone in my family kind of reveres my dad and what he believes in.And I think everyone was kind of scared to go against him maybe? I don’t really know, I don’t really know the reasons. But, you know, to answer your question, no I haven’t heard from my parents but have received so much love from my extended family that I kind of feel, you know, part of the fold again. So it’s been incredible.


Q) Generally what type of backup have you gotten for just sharing your story? I mean just the tweets from Kelly Clarkson have to be pretty special.


Stephanie Rice      Oh my God. Yes, when I saw what Kelly Clarkson has tweeted, I thought few times. You know, I’m kind of just shocked. 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. And 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, you know, 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 apprehensive 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 what I’m going through. But it was also coupled by kind of an anxiety of fear. Dealing with refection all over again, now 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 home town as well. I addressed them today and told the thank you so much for, you know, accepting me with open arms and without judgement. I kind of, I don’t know, I just wasn’t expecting to be showered with this much love. I’m not used to it I don’t think.




Q) 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? For example if you wind up picking someone different from who you initially anticipated choosing, what pulled your argument in your mind?



Anatalia Villaranda:    Well I initially wanted Alicia Keys at the start because honestly I feel like as an artist she does definitely have like a soul vibe to her. And just her overall aura. Like she’s an amazing person to begin with. In’ previous seasons I watched her grow with different artists and I was like hoping that if she turned around that she would grow with me too. And she would help me grow as a person and a singer as well. And then when I went on that stage because all four coaches turned out, whoa, I’m like this is, this is crazy. I would never, like I would never imagine that happening.  It was just like a connection that, a connection when she said that I was amazing.   Like whoa, Felicia thinks I’m amazing, I think she’s amazing. So then it was just like all such a surreal experience and I felt like her aura and what she said to me and her comments to me, it really spoke to me. I felt like it was like me and her just having a conversation with nobody else in the room.  So that’s basically why I chose her and I just went with my gut and my instinct and so did she.



Mark Isaiah:          Yes so in the beginning I mean I was always like looking forward to working with Alicia to be honest because I just love the way that she like that she perform and she just plays piano. She’s just super talented. Like this is crazy.  And she’s from New York too. That’s where I was born. I was born in New York. Born and raised in New York. And then I moved to Jersey and then to Pennsylvania. So now I kind of live in Pennsylvania. That’s why I’m representing here but yes, I really wanted to work with Alicia and Adam. Those are like my top two choices. And I was able to have two choices Gwen and Adam. Gwen was really beautiful. She was really nice. She told me so many positive, she gave me a lot of positive notes and stuff like that.  But at the end, you know, I did have my mind kind of setup on who I wanted to be with and Adam was just like, you know, he was really fighting for me as well and he just like, he’s really experience don the show. So I just decided to go with him and I think it was a good choice. So far it’s been great working with hm..


Johnny Hayes:       Since I started watching the show I mean I think Adam’s 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 interesting 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.


Brennley Brown:  Going into blind auditions, you know, honestly I was just going to be grateful for any chair to turn so I was very excited when Blake and Alicia turned. But I think going in, if there’s anybody that I would love to work with, you know, him or her?  It was probably Blake or Gwen and then Alicia Key’s turn also which was completely unexpected, you know, because as a country artist I thought, you know, if there’s one person that may turn, it’s probably going to be Blake. And so when Alicia turned I was very surprised and I was, I just felt like wow, I was so grateful in that moment.  And just talking with her. She has so much heart and soul. And she was just, in that moment it was so hard to choose between Blake and Alicia. I really didn’t have my mind set on anyone honestly. Like I said, I would just be grateful to work with any of them. But just talking with Blake, it was really a connection and I felt like, you know, I have very deep roots in country music. I grew up on a ranch. I’ve listened to old school country music from my dad. And just growing up with that I’ve been listening to Blake since I was very young.   So I just felt like that was a really good connection right there and I felt like, you know, he’s worked with younger country artists on the show and I just felt like there’s a really good connection there. But Alicia, what she was saying, it was like I started out at 14 and I feel you and I feel your heart and your soul. And so it was really a hard decision and I heard my dad from backstage and he’s like, go with your roots. And so, I just, I had to choose Blake. So went with my heart.


Stephanie Rice:   I really was just hoping to turn ay chair. And I was equally as ecstatic to work with either of the four coaches. But Adam was the, Adam’s relationship with Milly Martinez is what inspired me to even think about trying out for The Voice.  And that really stemmed from the fact that she was a singer/songwriter with The Voice that wasn’t necessarily a powerhouse vocalist. And it made me think well maybe I could, you know, relate to that. Maybe I could try out for the show as well. And then Alicia, I really connected with Alicia and she’s such an impassioned, just emotional performer, singer/songwriter on the piano which I also do. Piano, singer/songwriter songs.    And them Gwen, I was, I kept thinking I have the most in common with Gwen because she started out with a band and that’s how I got my start,, with a band as well. And then when Blake turned, actually I’ve always respected Blake on the show for not as good as an artist he is, but how well he just does on the show with country artists, especially with how he works with non-country artists and really finds a route for them that maybe they wouldn’t have thought to take on their own.  And when he turned and Gwen turned, initially I thought that I want to go with Gwen over Blake. There was something about Blake turning first that made me just kind of I don’t know, just think, wow, I never really thought about Blake to work with over anyone but that’s just certainly a high compliment that he turned for me.   He kind of just validated my entire existence, it felt like at that moment. But when Gwen started talking she started, you know, saying how music was a way for her to heal. And she really just spoke exactly the reasons why I do music. And she spoke of the fat that there’s a reason why she’s there on the show. And that reason, you know, could be to work with me. And I wanted to and I still believe that, you know, there’s a reason that, you know, possibly, hopefully we’ll go beyond, you know, just the active, you know, singing. That there’s a reason for me being on the show. And so when Gwen said that it was really, you know, that did it for me. It was really, I knew immediately I was going to choose Gwen.


Q) Felicia, was it going to be Alicia no matter what if she turned around?


Felicia Temple:     For me Alicia was my dream come true. So I definitely knew from the start that I wanted Alicia. I mean like many of us have said, no matter what, if anybody had turned I was just grateful for one chair to turn. And I think you can see in my audition literally Alicia turned around and I’m trying to fini9shy singing my phrase. And I was smiling so hard that I wanted to like drop the microphone and just like run to her. I was just like so excited. But working with her has always been a dream of mine. So when she turned, I knew that I was going with her.  And now one else, I mean as you can see, no one else had a chance to speak or to fight for me. They all knew where I was going and I was happy to go.




Q) Season 12 is great and a beautiful selection of judges. Anatalia, I’d like to know, do you plan on going to college? It’s almost that time and what would your major be?


Anatalia Villaranda:    Well I do plan on going to college. I just want to see where The Voice takes me and what my career does hold. But I do want to go to college right after I finish high school. And it’s my senior year right now and as funny as it sounds, I want to be a criminal detective, a police officer.  So I’m going to major in criminal justice. So that’s definitely something that I was looking into. And yes.




Q) Everybody, as much as this is an incredible experience and journey, a stop along your amazing careers, I want to know, do you have some kind of game plan, a strategy? Because ultimately this is a competition and you do want to be The Voice Season 12 winner so let’s start off with Stephanie from Team Gwen.


Stephanie Rice: I mean it’s a tough thing because you know at the end of the day it’s a competition. But, you know, competing isn’t the reason, you know, why I ever began in music. Again, every time I make a song selection I always go back to the reason why I began doing music. And it was to channel all of these emotions that were completely overwhelming and I felt like I couldn’t survive without having, without singing, without channeling this pain into something audible. And so when it comes to going forward, I really am just focused on choosing songs that I can connect with emotionally and lyrically and sing from a place that’s genuine. And sing from a place that’s, you know, coming from my heart, my soul which is where my artistry originated with to begin with.


Lauren Duski:  I guess as far as strategy goes, you know, the most important thing I think for all of us is remembering sometimes it’s because it is a completion it is sometimes difficult but I know for me when I get up there I just have to remind myself to enjoy and have fun.   And for the next few phases of the competition, I just think as an artist in general I just, I always want to look back and know that I stayed true to myself and I stayed focused. And I think what’s great about this show is it really allows us, even though we are covering songs and we’re not performing originals, it allows us to definitely push the boundaries creatively as artists.And we can take these songs and really make them our own. And I think all of us are individuals and we’re all very different. And I think going forward, you know, if we just stay true to ourselves and push ourselves as much as possible I think it will definitely take us far.


Johnny Hayes: Strategy wise, I don’t really have a strategy per se. You know, I hate to sound cliché but I’m kind of on the same page as some of the other artists here. You know, music for me has never been a competition so to speak so it’s kind of a new way of looking at it. Kind of having to think ahead a little bit. But you know I just try to take it, my plan in general in life is to take things one minute at a time because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. And so that really is, that’s my strategy. It’s to stay focused on, you know, doing my best as an artist and as a performer and I think whatever is supposed to happen will happen after that.


Mark Isaiah:   Basically I’m on the same page as Johnny here and everyone else. I don’t really have like 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, you know, just watching my family there supporting me all the way through really give me that confidence. So I just want to get that message there that no matter what you do, you know, how you look, you know, 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.



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