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The Voice: When No Chairs Turn

Last year, after independently releasing my third studio project, I made a decision… to take a leap of faith and audition for The Voice, America’s top music reality TV show. I was hoping that any exposure might yield greater opportunities to share my music with the world. 

I spent a few months going through multiple rounds of auditions and made the final, small group of very talented contestants who made it onto Season 16. I had high hopes. I was able to share my story and connect with amazing fellow contestants, as well as individuals involved with the show. I was excited to have my parents and closest friends fly into LA to watch my “big moment.” 

Finally, after a month sequestered in a hotel with other contestants, I stepped on stage to perform the song (chosen by the producers of the show) for four celebrity judges. I took a deep breath and began to sing. 

As time passed without any turns, my disappointment grew as the reality of no chair turns became apparent. As I stood on the stage to hear the judges remarks, I felt disappointed, embarrassed, and upset. I wanted so much to express that this song wasn’t the style that would showcase me or my voice. I secretly wished that they could have heard me sing one of my own songs. Instead, I expressed my gratitude to each judge for their comments, and quickly walked off the stage. 

After being quickly escorted out of the filming location within 20 minutes of not getting a chair, I broke bread with my friends and family at a restaurant next to the Pacific Ocean. I was expecting platitudes. Some attempt at words meant to downplay what had just occurred. My head and heart jostled for position trying to process what had transpired just an hour before. Instead, no cliché words or sentiments of pity offered— just affirmation and encouragement.

“No excuses. Keep doing what you’ve already been doing.”

“Continue to be excellent in every aspect of your life, whether music or life.”

“You’ve got a voice. Share it with the world.”

“You are loved so deeply. So furiously.” 

My "failure" in this great spotlight was not only a difficult lesson learned, but also a great reminder of how LOVED I was by those most important to me. 

Their encouraging words reminded me to not lose myself in the futile attempt of trying to find my identity through music or through the acceptance of others. The approval of celebrity judges or people all across America is not at the core of what I’m doing. As I reflect on the many highs and lows in my life thus far, I am reminded of the steadiness and peace found in the truth that my mother has always told me: Throughout the good and the bad in life, live outwardly for others and try each day to NEVER lose sight of your faith. 

A silver lining in the “clouds” is that the show gave me the special opportunity to perform before my parents for the very first time. While I cherish sharing that moment with my loving parents and my closest buddies, I have also spent countless hours trying to come up with reasons why I "failed" or why giving my best wasn't enough. I’ve gone through every excuse in the book; that it’s better I’m not bound to a contract, that I can continue to release original music this year, and that I can tour and play whenever and wherever I want. However, honestly, it still stings. 

Since that performance, the "what if’s" have still popped into my head. I questioned the song choice and wondered if I might have “succeeded” in getting onto a team if I had sung something better suited for my voice. Maybe I should have fought tooth-and-nail with the producers to allow me to perform a different song. Maybe my original music would have allowed me to express more emotions.

I’m now trying to let this deep disappointment transition to peace and understanding. I’ve written volumes of reasons why the judges didn’t believe I had what it took to be on one of their teams. I’ve struggled so hard to not believe the lies: 

“You’re not good enough.”

“You don't have what it takes.”

“You don’t have the voice.”

I've spent a lot of time struggling with myself and with God. Especially in the form of songs and letters to Him. I’ve realized I’ve been complaining despite a deep-seated knowledge that there is a greater reason for what happened. I’ve learned many times before that failure is a vital part of any journey worth pursuing. What makes this particular disappointment any different? Is it because the failure happens to be in a greater spotlight? 

Fast-forward a few months. The new season of “The Voice” has begun airing. Part of me had hoped that my performance might have ended up on the cutting room floor. The ‘evidence’ of my high hopes being burned to the ground would be buried for good. Another part of me hoped that America would get to see me perform and hear my story. That they would see me taking a risk and knowing that having no chairs turn was not the end of me or my career. 

You see, I’ve come to a couple very important realizations. Whether it’s on a great big, lighted stage telecast to millions of people or before a small group of people in a house concert, in a large music venue in Paris or a tiny church in rural Virginia, a cheerful song of hope or an honest song about grief… when I sing, I feel a deep connection with the Creator of this world, who loves me unconditionally. His throne of transcendent acceptance drowns out my own insecurities moving me to walk forward with confidence in acceptance and fulfillment.

A quote by Ivy Baker Priest sums it up: “The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” 

Though I cannot see the full picture yet, I trust that God is using this experience for a greater purpose. I can’t wait to see what He has planned.