Nerves overwhelmed Kailey Abel as she walked onto the stage for her blind audition. She stood looking at the back of four chairs, waiting eagerly to start her audition. So much flooded her mind in that moment.
“It is an intense space to sing, genuinely it’s hard to sing to the backs of chairs,” Abel joked. “They’re not even looking at me, that’s weird.”
Sophomore nursing student and ORU LIVE worship leader Kailey Abel announced her audition on the famous national singing competition “The Voice” on Feb. 5. Her episode aired on March 20.
Beforehand, Abel executed several tactics to prepare for this blind audition. Days before her audition, she would sing to the backs of chairs in her Los Angeles hotel room. Abel rehearsed her song hundreds of times before. She felt very prepared for this specific moment.
Abel chose the song “Forever Young” by Alphaville. She wanted a song that represented her as an artist and her potential vocally. As a singer and songwriter, she likes to take old songs, make some changes and make them sound new again. This is exactly what she did with “Forever Young.” The song not only showcased the low, raspy side of her voice but also the powerful side.
“There were a lot of nerves but so much peace and excitement in the same moment—it’s crazy how you can feel so much at once,” Abel said.
As she belted out and began to sing, her soulful voice filled the room. In the first 10 seconds of the song, Abel felt an abundant amount of emotions as thoughts flooded her mind. Slowly analyzing the audience’s perception, she thought about her performance and not wanting to trip and fall. Above all, the prominent voice in her head was urging for a judge to turn their chair.
“Ten seconds in I thought, whatever happens is what’s going to happen,” Abel recalled. “I give this up to the Lord.”
As she sang a high note, Blake Shelton turned his chair.
“When he turned, it was more than someone just saying, ‘Hey I like your voice.’ It’s someone saying, ‘I value you enough to be on my team and I value you enough to mentor you.’”
All four judges had only one spot left during Abel’s audition. She believes that Blake turning his chair with one spot left added even more value to her performance. Blake Shelton immediately gave some encouraging words to Kailey.
“You have an incredible gift,” Shelton said. “I would bet the farm on you winning this competition.”
Once the teams filled, Kailey would move on to the knockout rounds to battle against another team member—Cam Spinks. The song for their battle was country hit “What Ifs” by Kane Brown. Abel had to take great lengths in preparation for this showcase considering that she was up against another contestant.
“I think the biggest challenge for me is that I’m not a country artist and this song is blatantly country,” Abel said. “It’s hard to jump in a genre that isn’t particularly mine.”
During preparations and rehearsals, Abel chose to write multiple parts of the song to fit her style vocally. Although she had taken the time to manipulate these parts, there were moments where the coaches would give these written parts to Cam.
“That was a tough part for me because it pulled some of my vocal opportunities away, and I didn’t get to fully show what I could do because he was singing some parts that I had written,” Abel said.
Abel’s battle round against Cam aired on March 30. Despite her efforts, Blake chose Cam to continue on to the next round; Kailey was eliminated and sent home.
Even though some opportunities were limited as she stated, Abel said that she really enjoyed working with Cam during their rehearsals and cherished every moment. She shared that “The Voice” created a great space for her fellow teammates and her to reach their fullest potential in a positive and tension-free environment.
One of her ultimate goals was to bring light to the foster care system. She believes that her goal was met by going on “The Voice.” Sharing her backstory on television made it visual and caused the audience to become aware of what foster care really is.
“My family started doing foster care in 2015,” Abel said. “It taught me that family is not defined by blood but by who you choose to care for. We’ve had 15 kids who have come to live with us.”
One thing her family focuses on is the opportunity to connect with the parents of foster children. Connecting with these parents allows her family to provide them with a support system and share that they have someone who cares about them. Several of these parents are left alone in these situations.
“It is worth it that my heart be ripped out and these kids feel what a genuine loving home feels like,” Abel said. “If I am not willing to sacrifice that much as a Christian, then who is going to?”
The Abel family has found new joy through adopting Kailey’s younger brother Kylin.
“My family might not look like yours, but it is still a valuable and valid family. People need to see that,” Abel expressed.
Being eliminated from “The Voice” is not a loss for Abel. She believes that her purpose on the show was fulfilled and that God closed this door for a reason. Her future is looking bright considering her next career steps and goals.
Abel will be traveling to Nashville, Tennessee, during the summer of 2020 to showcase her music to a wide variety of producers and publishers. Her next big career goal is to have a new fully produced album out. Although she most likely will not audition for “The Voice” again, she is excited to see which doors God will open, ready to walk through them.
“‘The Voice’ provided a lot of visibility and opened up doors of opportunity. A lot of opportunities for this summer were provided from an ORU alum. I’m really excited to see what happens!” Abel said.