When MaKenzie Thomas sings Monday night on “The Voice,” she will be singing for a mountain of fans back home in Eastern Kentucky.
Besides her parents, there are her three siblings, her grandparents and other family members living in Wallingford in Fleming County.
“I live on a hill with a bunch of kids. My grandparents live on one side ... my aunt lives the other,” Thomas said. “We’re all close-knit.”
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After Thomas won her Knockout Round last month, the 20-year-old told her parents that she understood they had priorities that would need to take precedent over traveling to Los Angeles.
“We just had to replace our roof ... so I’m just not sure if financially if they would be able to do it,” Thomas said. And they’ve got her younger siblings to raise “so it’s OK if they’re not there for live shows.”
Thomas said she’s “super nervous” about the live performances.
“This time everything happens live ... when it happens it happens, and whatever the outcome is, it is,” she said.
She said she is “enjoying every second” of her time on the singing competition; the show, now in its 15th season, pits teams of singers selected by celebrity coaches including Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson. Thomas is on Team JHud.
It’s all the sweeter because she didn’t make the show on season 14.
“It feels amazing. When I came back, I didn’t think I would make it this far,” Thomas said. “I’m extra gratified that I have.”
Thomas wowed Hudson and moved celebrity adviser Mariah Carey to tears with her rendition of the Bee Gee’s “How Deep is Your Love” last month to win a place among the 24 contestants who will perform live.
Viewers can vote for Thomas on “The Voice” app or online at nbc.com/VoiceVote. The results will be revealed live on Tuesday on NBC.
Meeting Carey was a high point of the event so far, Thomas said.
“It was really validating when she cried during my rehearsal,” Thomas said. “When you think about people who have been in the industry, it’s hard to remember they are still vulnerable. To see her cry over my performance, that rehearsal … was amazing.”
Thomas, who studied music education at Morehead State University before dropping out, has been performing with gospel groups (she and Hudson bonded at her audition over admiration for gospel singer Le’Andria Johnson) and hopes to make a career in gospel music.
“I love to perform in a group ... I love how easy it is to feel the spirit when you’re performing with other singers,” she said “But ultimately I want to branch off into a solo career.”
But for now she’s enjoying the camaraderie of her teammates on JHud, as well as the other performers on “The Voice.”
“Everybody here is amazingly talented. It isn’t a matter of thinking I’m better than anybody else,” Thomas said. “I would like to say I’m friends with pretty much everybody here, and I love everybody on Team JHud”
Thomas is also excited about some of the unexpected opportunities that have come her way because of her appearances on “The Voice.”
“I now model for Blessed Mama Boutique, a store in Morehead, it’s something I never actually thought I could do,” Thomas said. “It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. You might even see some of their clothes on the show.”
She can’t say what she plans to sing on the live show or who she thinks has the best shot at winning.
“At end of the day, it’s what the audience votes for, so it’s about doing the best I can do, while encouraging the rest of my competitors to do their best,” Thomas said. “There’s not a single voice here I wouldn’t listen.”