Before the show airs and celebrity judges turn their chairs, potential candidates for “The Voice,” a reality television singing competition, must go through a multistep audition process for the chance to wow the celebrity judges — and an audience.
Isabelle Jonason, a 20-year-old Bangor resident, has made it past the initial video audition process and will go to New York City to sing in front of a panel who will decide whether she will move on for the chance to audition in front of judges Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine on “The Voice.”
If not for the nudging people have given her along the way, she may never have taken the chance to begin with.
“Music has always been a major part of my life,” Jonason said. She has played the viola since she was 9 years old, and her mother worked as executive director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra for many years.
But no one ever knew she could sing.
“It was a little secret that I kept for a long time,” Jonason said.
She would use rooms during her high school study halls she was told were “soundproof,” but one day, when she was belting out a Lady Gaga song, a janitor knocked on the door.
“He said, ‘So what are you doing with that?’” Jonason recalled. He encouraged her to sing for others. “That was the first time anyone gave me any feedback about my voice.”
She entered her high school talent show, ready to let her secret out.
“It was the first time my parents and friends had ever heard me sing,” Jonason said.
She decided to pursue her passion and enrolled in online undergraduate courses through Sanford Brown University. She hoped to someday obtain a master’s degree in fine arts. But when she became a mom at age 19, she had to put school on hold and picked up a full-time job to support her son.
It was there she met people who encouraged her to reach for the stars, including Sheila Wentworth, her manager at Planet Fitness, and Stephanie Dunn, one of her co-workers.
Wentworth discovered Jonason could sing through Facebook, where she saw a video Jonason posted.
“I got chills,” Wentworth said.
Wentworth shared the video with family and friends, amazed by Jonason’s singing. Along with Jonason’s co-workers, she also encouraged Jonason to audition.
“One of my co-workers took me aside one day, and she said ‘Is this your dream?’” Jonason recalled.
Jonason said yes, but it was only after answering a question about her son that her resolve strengthened.
“If you can’t follow your own dream, how can you encourage your son to follow his dreams?” Jonason recalled Stephanie Dunn saying to her.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about being a young mom is that your life ends when you have a child,” Jonason said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have so much more to live for because of him. I’m doing it for him.”
On Sunday, Feb. 28, Jonason will audition in front of a panel who will decide whether she will be featured on “The Voice.” She was told to prepare three modern songs and plans to sing “When We Were Young” by Adele, “Nobody Love” by Tori Kelly and “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber.
She was shocked when she received an email inviting her to audition in person, but she said she’s excited to do it.
When asked who she would pick if she were chosen to audition in front of the celebrity judges and all those chairs do happen to turn, she said the decision would be easy: Adam Levine.
And as Wentworth said, her co-workers, friends and family will be cheering her on the whole time.
“She shows so much promise,” Wentworth said.