Getting To Know Audra McLaughlin

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File photo of Audra McLaughlin (photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

File photo of Audra McLaughlin (photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

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Its no secret that I absolutely love The Voice. Monday and Tuesday nights are reserved for me sitting on my couch and tuning in to see the stellar talent and of course, the banter between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. The final shows for The Voice are in the works, and its down to the last few remaining contestants. Audra Mclaughlin was eliminated from the show just before the semi finals, but as we know, just because a contestant is eliminated doesn’t mean that their career is all of a sudden stopped. I had the chance to interview Audra on Mother’s Day, and it was like two old friends catching up with each other.

Audra came to the show with total support of her family and friends. “I was involved with a program that involved music. John Daley & Melissa Daley own “Delco Let There Be Rock School.” The school I go to (DelcoRockSchool.com) got an email from a talent producer with The Voice, and they asked if there was anyone who would be interested in auditioning. They sent my videos into a friend of theirs who is a talent producer at “The Voice.” The producer contacted John 2 weeks after they sent my videos and I was asked to come to New York for a private industry referral audition. I credit them for the reason I got to experience this amazing journey because they took a chance on me only knowing me for 2 months at the time. They are amazing people and we are a team now. Melissa Daley my vocal coach works very hard day in & day out getting me industry ready. Everything happened so fast, and it was surreal to win a competition in “Sea Isle City Got Talent” in New Jersey,and then go audition for The Voice.” She got selected to audition for the star judges soon thereafter. When all four chairs turned, she was extremely nervous, but she pressed on. “All of a sudden, Adam is looking at me! Then Blake, Shakira and Usher!” She couldn’t believe that all four turned their chairs! She tried so hard not to get distracted when they were all facing her. “It was crazy! I don’t remember much of what happened! Its so weird to watch yourself back and you wonder ‘is this really happening?’ “

Her support group has been her foundation throughout the whole process. “It truly was a team effort, my parents believed in me, they paid for me to go to school and my vocal coach Melissa taught me so much about the industry. Melissa and her husband John have worked in the industry for years, and have helped others along the way, but they wanted to open a school for kids where music was a priority. They are huge anti-bullying advocates. Melissa has helped me with everything from song choice to social media and the importance of it.”

Being a victim of bullying and being put down is something that Audra relates to. The school helped by giving her a safe place to talk about her feelings and share with others. The support that Melissa and John give to the kids as well as Audra helps build the confidence in those who are victims. “There have been times when kids come in and sit down with Melissa and are just crying because they don’t understand why.” Audra stays involved with anti-bullying through her music. She wants to be the positive change and show others that if she can do it, they can do it. “No matter what you’ve been through in life, you can get through it when you find something you love to do.”

Twitter was something that Audra wasn’t really involved with until she started on The Voice. She had an account with about 300 followers but after she was on The Voice, she started getting more familiar with it. Its been a constant reminder to Audra about her ‘angels.’ “I have a lot of supporters that tweet to me on a daily basis and I try to get back to them as much as I can. The pictures that they create for me are amazing and I try to share them as much as possible. My mom has been keeping a digital scrapbook for me of every article and picture so I can keep the memories to share with my family one day.”

The name “Audra’s Angels” came about when she started singing songs on the show about angels. Audra says “This is cool, there’s a theme going on here, and I felt like each song was inspirational and uplifting. When I think of my supporters and those who were following me, I think of them as angels because they are uplifting, and I don’t want to call them my fans. What they are doing are what friends do for you, they are my angels.”

She has nothing but praise for the people who work on The Voice. They plan dinners or if someone needs to go to the salon, they make it a point to get the contestants to where they need to go. They are basically in the hotel most of the time and getting out helps them during the process. During one of the outings for dinner, they ran into Adam Sandler. He was extremely genuine and they had a great conversation. She’s been able to meet a lot of people on a national level, including Chris Martin, Scott Hendricks, and The Band Perry. “I wouldn’t have been able to meet them without the voice. The Band Perry, I just love them.”

One of the best surprises from being on The Voice came from Blake Shelton. He gave each of his team members a guitar. Audra thought it was a dream, she was in total shock, and literally thanked him a million times for the guitar. “Now that I have a guitar from Blake Shelton, I can write hit songs with it!”

The Voice has its share of celebrities and creative musicians. How is it to work with The Voice band leader Paul Mirkovich? “He’s amazing and so talented! He is so smart and has worked with so many people within the industry. He’s creative and a genius and overall a great person! I love all of the members of The Voice band. What I love about Paul is that he takes his work very seriously. And I’m a lot like that. He’s always willing to help you and so understanding. During live shows, you get a song the night before, and you don’t have much time to learn the melody. We go right into rehearsals after the show is done. When I was given the song by Reba McEntire “You Lie”, I tried to cram it as much as possible before going in to rehearse, and he understood that I just got the song and knew that I would be prepared the next day. The work ethic is something that he and I understood.”

I asked her to describe each coach in one word. (I knew this would be a tough one!) “Shakira: sweet. Adam: goofy. Usher: smooth. Blake: (my coachie!) genuine. There are so many words I could use to describe Blake. It was a true honor to work with him.”

After The Voice, what is Audra planning to do? She wants to go to Nashville and has very realistic dreams. Audra knows that she has to prove herself to the Nashville community and work extremely hard. She understands that she has to go the extra mile in writing her songs, and find the right song. Songwriters that she would love to work with include Hillary Lindsey (Carrie Underwood). If she likes a song, she’ll look up who the songwriter is, and find out more about them. She wants to get in with the songwriting sessions and perfect her craft.

Any advice for someone who wants to audition for The Voice? “When choosing a song for The Voice audition, make sure you let them know who you are. Some people go in and don’t have an idea of who they are. Have four songs ready, in case they ask for another song. Always have extra. Song choice is key. They love having an upbeat song and a slow song. Go in with what you feel is right. Make it your own!”

Audra is a class act and completely understands what it takes to make it in a tough music business world. Her ambition and work ethic are solid and she has the right frame of mind in going forward. No sense of entitlement with her whatsoever! After talking with her for almost an hour, I found her to be an ‘old soul’ in that she is extremely wise beyond her years. At age 22, she has the right attitude and I can guarantee her story has only just begun. Plan on seeing Audra a LOT in the future!

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