Standing backstage just moments before she would begin singing Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” on NBC-TV’s”The Voice,” Wesley Chapel’s Alexandra Joyce didn’t have a care in the world.
The 16-year-old Wiregrass Ranch High junior had prepared for that moment since she was a little girl. She was in the All-State chorus in the fourth grade, competed in talent shows at John Long Middle School, taught herself to play the ukulele and guitar in high school and a day doesn’t pass without Alexandra showing off her pipes.
“I don’t think there has been a single day of her life that music hasn’t been an important part of for her,” says her mother, Adrienne Reed.
So, Alexandra had convinced herself this was just another performance.
Alexandra filmed her audition in June, and waited months to reveal to Wesley Chapel how she fared.
“I felt a lot of pressure on me, for sure,” she said. “An immense amount of pressure. I had to prove something to myself.”
“But,” she added, with a laugh, “right before I went on I was cool as a cucumber, I was chilling.”
Then, the doors opened and everything changed. Her heart stopped, she says, and her breathing grew heavy as she walked towards the backs of four large red chairs.
“Nothing really prepares you for that,’’ she admits.
After quickly composing herself, Joyce began singing, trying not to focus on the chairs in front of her. Then, one chair turned — “You could hear a little excitement in my voice,’’ she confesses — followed by two others. She finished her audition with three judges smiling back at her — Academy- and Grammy-award winner Jennifer Hudson, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and country crooner Blake Shelton.
While Levine and Shelton offered some encouraging words while mentioning pitch issues (due to nerves), Hudson didn’t say much. Her nerves now settled, Alexandra wanted to know why.
“She just kind of said to me like, you know, I can’t really compete with the other coaches, so good luck,’’ Alexandra says. “And I ended up calling her out and kind of saying, ‘Well, you haven’t said anything to me. What do you have to offer to me?’”
Hudson perked up and told Alexandra that she saw the drive in her, and the passion. She told the young Wesley Chapel resident that no matter who she chose as her coach, she had the right stuff to succeed.
“Right when she stood up and really started to get passionate about it, that’s when I knew that was where I needed to go,” Alexandra says of joining Hudson’s team.
Alexandra’s journey on the show ended when she lost in the Battle Round to her teammate, Jeremiah Miller, as they both performed “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth.
Alexandra’s Battle Round, like her audition, only aired as part of a montage, so her television time was limited after a an excruciating wait.
“They don’t tell you when the show will be on, they just tell you to watch,’’ said Adrienne, who took her daughter to the initial audition for the show in Baltimore, MD, earlier this year.
Adrienne, who runs a yoga studio in Land O’Lakes, says the experience has been memorable for her daughter, who sent in a video submission to get the initial invitation to Maryland.
In Maryland, she auditioned and was given a “maybe” by the show’s producers. Two weeks later, she received an email telling her the show was going to pass this time, but would keep her in mind for the future.
Two weeks after that, another call came — shockingly informing Adrienne that her daughter was not only getting another chance, but that it would be at the blind auditions in Los Angeles.
“Is this a prank call?,’’ Adrienne asked the caller.
It wasn’t, and when she called Alexandra, she told her to sit down before she broke the news.
“There was a lot of screaming and jumping around,’’ she says.
Adrienne said appearing on a music competition has been a long-time dream for Alexandra, who would often as a child come singing and sliding down the foyer in socks and into her mother’s home office ready to put on a performance.
“We used to watch those shows when she was little,’’ Adrienne says. “When she turned 16, the (young) age limit for the show, she decided she wanted to go ahead and do it.”
Alexandra, a junior at WRH who will graduate early next spring, describes her style as folk indie, but she says she can sing a little bit of everything. Ed Sheeran is one of her biggest musical influences, inspiring her to teach herself the guitar at the age of 13.
And of course, there’s Adrienne, who encouraged Alexandra every step along the way.
“I’ve never really had a music teacher,” Alexandra says. “If anyone, my mother has been the biggest rock for me. When I first started playing guitar, initially I didn’t think I was good enough, and she said ‘Yes, you are.’ She built me up, I really owe that to her.”
Alexandra said the experience has been awe-inspiring.
“I think its definitely been kind of a stepping stone for me,” she says. “I know I have this assurance that I can do this. I have a single on iTunes; I never in a million years thought I would have a single on iTunes.”
She says her favorite part has been the people she has met on this journey, which has been highlighted by being coached by the likes of Hudson.
“That’s just freaking insane,” she says. “Absolutely freaking insane.”