Conn. singer gets her voice out there on ‘The Voice’

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Brooke Stephenson of Connecticut is a singer and that’s it.

And she’s happy to be able to say that.

Stephenson, from Bolton, Conn., was a contestant on the reality competition series, “The Voice” before she was eliminated on Oct. 20. In the battle round, judge Kelly Clarkson chose Brooke’s competition in that segment, Damali.

In a telephone interview, Stephenson said her goal in entering “The Voice” was simply to get the sound of her voice out before the public and then move those people with the sound of her voice.

“(Being a singer is) part of who I am,” said Stephenson. “If I can move people (emotionally) that’s a dream come true.”

Stephenson, who went to Berklee College of Music, said, in school, “I was never the valedictorian. I was never the sports champion. I always was the singer.”

As a child, she said, “I’d sing wherever we go.”

At home, Stephenson said, “I would have concerts with no one around.”

Stephenson, who moved from Bolton to Los Angeles, has been working on her music more after leaving her job where she worked with other artists.

However, Stephenson said, her initial dream as a child was not to be a famous singer

That changed when she was 11. Stephenson heard the singer-songwriter Jewel and her life changed.

“I was obsessed with Jewel,” said the Connecticut native. “I would just come home from school and sing to Jewel.”

That singing in her house paid off in unexpected ways. She never took lessons but singing along to the recordings of other powerful singers helped strengthen her voice.

After securing a slot to appear on “The Voice,” each contestant must take the “Blind Audition.” In this round of the competition, the judges all sit with their backs to the contestants and just listen. The judges then spin around when they like what they hear and invite the contestants to be part of their team. Once the contestants pick their teams, the judges coach them to help improve their singing skills.

This season, there are four judges: Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and John Legend. When Stephenson performed in the Blind Audition, Clarkson, Stefani and Shelton all turned around and made their pitch. John Legend subsequently confessed on the episode that he made a mistake by not turning his chair around.

Stephenson said she was floored by the reception by the judges.

“I was thinking I just need one chair to turnaround. That was my goal,” she said. “When three turned around, I was elated.”

When she sang during the Blind Audition, Stephenson felt she wasn’t her best. “I was so nervous. My body was shaking.”

As the judges critiqued Stephenson’s performance they were effusive with praise.

Stephenson said she was surprised by the positive comments. “I kept waiting for the ‘but…’ (when they would bring up the problems she had in critique).”

Stephenson went with Team Kelly after Clarkson, Stefani, and Shelton did their best to woo her to their side.

Stephenson said she went with Clarkson because she, too, was one of her musical influences and heroes.

“When I went into this, I knew that I wanted Kelly or John (for a coach),” said Stephenson.

Stephenson said she thought she could learn a lot from Clarkson about performing and about how to really belt out a song.

“She’s one of the best vocalists of our time.”

Stephenson said one of the lessons she learned is that any performance has room for improvement.

Now that her stint on “The Voice” is over, Stephenson said she is hoping to go on a short concert tour. She has no dates set for Connecticut but she would like to come back to perform for a hometown crowd.

Additionally, Stephenson said, she will be releasing an album by the end of the year. The album will feature some soulful rock, folk, and bluegrass.

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