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With her rendition of "Angel From Montgomery," Delaware County native Audra McLaughlin secured a spot in the 6th season of NBC's "The Voice" vocal competition, capturing the attention of all four of the show's judges during the blind audition process.
Now the Delaware County Community College student is hoping to push through the battle rounds, the knockouts, and avoid elimination to make it to the final live performance round.
As a member of Team Blake, we talked to McLaughlin about her journey to becoming a Voice contestant, and her hopes for making it all the way to the winner's circle.
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When did you first get a passion for singing?
I started singing when I was like seven and I would always walk around my house and I would always be singing Mariah Carey, or just to the radio, or in the car, or everywhere I went. When I was nine, I started taking vocal lessons in my area and then I started getting involved in local competitions. I started getting involved in the choir at my high school and then I really started getting into song writing and playing my guitar and that was really what I loved doing.
How did you first learn about The Voice auditions?
I started going to the DelCo Let There Be Rock School about a year ago, and in April they sent my videos in to The Voice. It was an industry referral, actually, and they got back to them within two weeks and asked if I wanted to come in for a private, industry audition in New York, and it all stemmed from there.
During the blind auditions, did you already know which judge you were going to pick?
Definitely before, when I was being asked, my decision was Blake Shelton, always, going into it. I mean, there was always that moment that, depending on whatever they said, I was willing to change who I would go with but I just think that what he said to me really stuck with me and so I decided to go with him.
What would you say has been your favorite moment in the competition so far?
There's so many, but to pick one, I guess would definitely be working with Blake Shelton. It's like so priceless to have the chance to work with someone that is so well respected in the music industry; someone that I look up to so much. And I think he's just such a great person and he really just makes you feel so confident about yourself. It's just been amazing to get to work with someone like him.
Have you gotten a lot of support from your classmates at Delaware County Community College?
Definitely online, and on my Twitter, and on my Facebook and all of my social networks, it's been such an incredible network of support from everybody. I actually took a year off from school, so I haven't been there in a couple of months, but the support has been just amazing.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced since you've been on the show?
I think, you know, the battle rounds definitely were very, very tough, because you're battling against your friends. These are people that you've really been spending so much time with, and you both want this so bad and you're just hoping, you know that the best thing will come out of it. So, I think just working together--I love working with other people--but just knowing that they're your friends is difficult.
What has been your strategy for giving yourself an edge over the competition?
I've been working with my vocal coach Melissa Daley for almost a year now, and she just worked with me, day-in and day-out, helping me really just make my songs my own. We work over the phone when we're out there and she gives me different advice and tips on everything that goes into it. We're a good team.
I'm sure it's been sort of a whirlwind going from regular life to being on television every week. What do you miss most about life before The Voice?
I've always been very family-oriented. My family and I, we go on a lot of vacations and we spend a lot of time together. So, lately, my time has been just focusing on this competition. So, I miss spending time with my family but I know that their always gonna be there for me and they've always been my biggest fans, so it's nice to know that I'll always have them.
Do you still get nervous on stage?
Growing up I had stage fright a little bit, but by doing it so much I've gotten so much more comfortable doing it. I mean, I always get nervous. I think that, as a singer, getting up on that stage is so different than anything else that you do in your normal day life but it's what I love to do. So, I think that it just comes so natural in a way, but I do still get nervous.
At this point in the competition, how optimistic do you feel about winning?
There's just so many incredibly talented people in this competition. I mean, they're all so amazing. So, I'm really just going to work really hard and, you know, just do my best and hope that the best comes out of it.