‘The Voice’ hopeful grateful for audition experience

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Kendall

Brittany Kendall’s heart fluttered as the wait finally screeched to an end.

After five hours of scaling escalators and shuffling through waiting areas, she stood in platform boots in front of an audition judge for NBC’s massively popular singing competition, “The Voice.” A lifetime of musical aspirations boiled down to less than a minute of singing for the 21-year-old Huntingburg woman. And even though she didn’t make it to the next round of the nationally-televised competition, she’s grateful for what she picked up from the experience at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday.

One thing she knows for certain. She will be back.

“I was trying to just push myself out of my shell,” Kendall said Monday. “And I actually did.”

She has sang for as long as she can remember. Kendall recalled corralling her family at home to listen to her perform Disney hits and songs from other movies. She tried choir while attending Southridge middle and high school, but decided it wasn’t for her.

She now sings any moment she can to boost her mood, whether that’s while she’s working at OFS in Huntingburg, walking down the street or bored at home. Kendall has yet to sing in front of a crowd, but with the experience she picked up over the weekend, she’d like to change that.

Her favorite musician is Amy Lee of the grammy-award-winning Evanescence because her late father, Travis Kendall, gave her one of the band’s albums before he died 10 years ago. It was the first CD she ever owned.

“If I had any sort of questions or if I ever thought about anything that had to do with music, he always pushed that inspiration,” Kendall said. “He was like, ‘Then do it. You should go ahead, just do whatever you feel is right.’”

Her entry into “The Voice” was a step in that direction.

When she was 8 or 9 years old, Kendall began noticing people watching her while she sang, and it caused her to become shy. Two years ago, she had plans to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” but backed out.

She’s now hoping to jump that hurdle. That’s why last weekend, Kendall and her mother, Shelley Nicholson, and her uncle, Rick Duncan, headed south to Music City.

They arrived to a swarm of about 1,000 hopefuls vying for a shot at stardom. After waiting outside the center for about two hours, competition organizers separated Kendall from her family, leaving her “like a lost puppy,” she said.

“My heart was just pounding,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, goodness. My support team is gone. What am I going to do?’”

Minors are allowed to have one adult accompany them through the entire audition process, though, and a few of the younger contestants waiting around Kendall had mothers who spoke with her to ease her nerves.

Once inside, Kendall snaked through the building at the guidance of on-floor arrows that directed her from room to room. The singers chatted and rehearsed as they inched closer to the audition room, and then Kendall was smacked with a feeling of both anxiety and joy when her name was called.

“In that moment, I was just like, ‘Whoa,’” she recalled. “‘This is actually happening.’”

She performed a clip of Katy Perry’s “Rise,” a haunting pop anthem about facing adversity with courage. Kendall likes to sing it whenever she’s feeling down.

“It felt like those 30 to 45 seconds I got ... it felt like it took an eternity,” she said. “But at the same time, it went so fast.”

Prior to auditioning, Kendall had been assigned to a group with nine other singers. None advanced to the next round of the competition, and the vocal judge — who Kendall said was not one of the famous coaches viewers normally see on television — told the singers that their results didn’t mean they were bad singers, just that they weren’t ready to advance.

Kendall thought she would cry, but she ended up feeling the exact opposite. Her heart, which moments before felt like it might jump out of her chest, was happy.

“I kept hearing a lot of people getting angry behind me,” she explained. “And I just wanted to let them know, ‘Hey, this is an experience. Not a lot people can say that they had that experience.’”

It’s a day she’ll remember forever. When she returned, a work friend who knew Kendall’s late father told her that he would be proud of her.

“If you try hard enough and try to get yourself out there, you can pursue something,” Kendall said. “And you shouldn’t just stop because one person said no ... just keep at it and you will get somewhere with it.”

Throughout the process, Kendall said her adopted family — whom she has lived with since late 2015 — filled her with love and support. Her adopted parents are Bill and Rita Lawrence of Huntingburg, and her adopted siblings are Karissa and Joshua Lawrence.




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