Emily Keener was one of the most promising artistes in Season 10 of "The Voice US." In her last performance in Week 2 Live Playoffs, she was praised by her coach, Pharrell Williams, who said "at the age of 17, she is doing what her parents inspire her to do with love for music that got her a four chair turn."
Unfortunately, her performance of "Blue eyes crying in the rain" did not get her enough of America's votes and she ended up being eliminated from the show. However, she remains one of the most admired artistes on "The Voice" as all the coaches had praised her for her talent and singing skills.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Keener was an early bloomer and taught herself how to play guitar at the age of 10. She was writing songs at 11 and when she reached the age of 12, she was already performing professionally at several restaurants and wineries.
In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, India, Emily talks about her journey through the show, her most memorable moments and how she is planning to move further with her career now.
International Business Times: How would you describe your journey on "The Voice?"
Emily Keener: Positive, transformative, and challenging. It was a wonderful experience that really helped me step out of my comfort zone and concentrate on my artistry. I made a lot of great friends, and it has offered so many cool opportunities since day one! The intensity of this time in my life is something I will never forget.
IBT: You were definitely one of Pharrell's favourites and he had praised your talent in the previous elimination round. Had you considered that you would be eliminated?
Keener: Before my performance on Monday, I was starting to come to terms with the fact that I'd be going home. In my heart, I had a sinking feeling that America wouldn't respond well to an "odd" choice like Lilac Wine. Funnily enough, though, I was completely confident after my performance. The standing ovation from all four coaches and my impressive climb on the iTunes chart had convinced me that I'd be hanging around for at least one more week. So, yeah, I was a little shocked to be in the bottom two. It's so amusing to me that the first time I felt confident in a performance is the week that I went home!
IBT: Looking back, would you have chosen a different song?
Keener: Absolutely not. My artistic integrity is far more important to me than any amount of popularity or "success". I was so honoured to be performing a Jeff Buckley song, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I was kind of testing the waters. Unfortunately, America didn't dig it, but I did, and lots of other people did. I may not have won that round, but I did win a lot of die-hard fans and a lot of respect from myself and others. That victory is bigger than anything else, to me.
IBT: What is your most memorable moment from your journey in "The Voice" Season 10?
Keener: It's hard to pick one moment; there so many! But I think that "Lilac Wine" was definitely one of the most important things I managed to do on the show. As far as Jeff Buckley's music goes: unless it's in form of "Hallelujah", it hasn't happened on the modern stage. To have gotten the opportunity to share his take on Lilac Wine with the world is absolutely insane. I've gotten so many messages from people who are grateful for introducing them to Jeff. It makes me want to pass out with joy!
IBT: You were a professional singer before joining "The Voice." How do you think this experience will enhance your career?
Kenner: Yes, I started getting serious about singing when I was 12. I did consider myself a professional before, but I consider myself a much more seasoned one now. The intensity of this process has helped me prove myself to myself. Self-doubt is the continual companion of every artiste, but it is a journey like this one that can help a person command some authority over it. My confidence is up, I'm more informed and more invested, and I'm well aware that this is just the very beginning for me. Opportunities are presenting themselves generously, and I'm looking forward to finding out what's in store for me!
IBT: What was your reasoning behind choosing Pharrell as your coach? How has he helped you through the various rounds?
Keener: I had a gut feeling that he was the right coach for me. Something about the way he spoke and the way he interacted with me after my audition just struck me as very genuine and meaningful. I was right. He guided me so well and allowed me to be myself. I think many of the viewers noticed that relationship between Pharrell and me. The artistic connection was tangible and I think people appreciated it and were inspired by it. He stuck by me unwaveringly and that is something really, really special.
IBT: If Pharrell hadn't turned around, who would you have chosen as your coach?
Keener: I probably would've picked Christina! She pushed hard for me and was really passionate about the stuff I was doing. I think we would have been a good match, as well.
IBT: Who is/are your favourite contestant(s) this season?
Keener: I love them all equally. They are extremely talented, wonderful people and any one of them could win! But after that Instant Save experience, I am #TeamOwen! I want the subtle singer/songwriters to continue to be represented on the show, so he will have my vote next week. The stress of being in the bottom two is unbelievable. I am really hoping he doesn't have to be in that position again!
IBT: What is the most important lesson you learnt from this chapter of your life?
Keener: The wonderful Voice vocal coach, Trelawny, said this to me right before I performed my Instant Save song: "It's not any of your business what people think of you. It's just your job to create art."
I have thought of that non-stop since I left the stage. I think it embodies my personal and professional discoveries on the show. Learning to accept myself as an artiste has been an uphill battle, but now I've reached the top of the hill. I am moving forward with confidence and intense passion. My new music is my best yet, and this next record is something that people will really need to keep an eye out for.
IBT: Many of your fans were disheartened to see you go and have been blowing up social media pages. Do you have any message for them?
Keener: It was really humbling to see all the support from these amazing people! I'd like to send out a heartfelt thank you to everyone. The kindness, the support, and the dedication has brought me to tears so many times! I've been completely inundated with awesome messages and my music is being appreciated like never before. This is surreal and I am at a loss for words. All I can emphasise is my gratitude. I hope I can make it up to you all someday! I know that, because of you guys, I will have a long and happy career doing what I love to do.