NewsChannel 15 caught up with Fort Wayne native Christiana Hicks (she goes by Christiana Danielle on the show) on Tuesday, a day after her blind audition on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” scored her a spot on Alicia Keys’ team. The Snider High School and Huntington University graduate who impressed with a rendition of Drake’s hit “Hotline Bling” said the support of her family and her community led her to this position.
WANE: What pushed you to audition for “The Voice”?
CHRISTIANA DANIELLE: “What motivated me was that I decided to make an executive decision to take a year off in between going to get my masters in social work and so up until this point everybody was like ‘oh my gosh you should pursue singing, like what’s your major?’ Are you going to do anything with singing? Singing… singing… singing… singing and I always kind of kept it to myself. So on this year, I’m going to be super outgoing musically. I’m going to travel and I’m going to you know, do everything that I can do to be more outgoing and a year before that I signed up for a profile for The Voice and I was going to send a video, but I never did. I got too scared and so I would still get emails periodically and so it was in June and I got an email talking about the last opening call place was going to be St. Louis and so I was like, “Oh dad how far is St. Louis? Just asking,” and he was like “Oh it’s about 6 hours or so,” and I was like “oh well, there’s an open call for The Voice and it’s the last stop but nevermind, forget it.” Then he was like “nope, let’s go” and so he went and I did it and I guess this is one of the most outgoing things I could have done musically from my year off.”
WANE: Why did you choose to sing Drake’s “Hotline Bling” for your blind audition?
C.D.: “I thought that this song would one thing be a shocker and two it would show my versatility and that’s what I think is really special about my voice. Just kind of the high parts and low parts. It’s my tone, I wanted to showcase my tone and not necessarily just belt out a lot and my favorite group ever is called Thirdstory and they did a cover of the song and I would be in remits if I did not mention this because of structurally a lot of it came from Thirdstory. I just kind of made it a little more emotional and then I love jazz and naturally when I heard the instrumental I heard static at the end when it kind of breaks and I was like “oh my god that was so cool, why would you think of that?” and I don’t know I put that in there because I do love Jazz. I’m not like fully a jazz artist, but I’m heavily influenced. It’s kind of naturally what my voice does when it goes into the higher register. It kind of has that jazzy feel and so just sitting down and making this emotional as possible, that’s what I did.”
WANE: Did you expect to have three judges turn around for you?
C.D.: “No, I don’t know. I kept telling my mom, I was like “I didn’t expect, I didn’t not expect to get a chair, but I didn’t expect to get a chair.” So, I don’t know. I’m just going to go in and sing and I’m going to start with my eyes closed and hopefully I’ll have something by the end of the time I’m done. Right before I was kind of wondering, ‘is this choice too risky? Will they get what I’m trying to do with it artistically?’ but I was like you know what I’m just going to go sing it and so when the chairs started turning around I was telling myself like stay calm finish the song, don’t mess up and then afterwards you guys kind of see how I just I lost it and I was so shocked and so humbled and so grateful.”
WANE: Has Fort Wayne supported you so far?
C.D.: “Fort Wayne has really blown my mind. They clearly were already familiar with the show so when I came out and said I auditioned. I had to make an artist page and I had to make a Twitter and they were already just on it and they had strangers pouring into me and I was very, very grateful and just thankful. It’s like a small town feel, but there’s a lot of us here. So I really appreciate the support.”
WANE: Why did you choose Alicia Keys as your coach?
C.D.: “So, I went in there wanting Blake because I have this strange obsession with him and so when he didn’t turn around, I was like, I don’t know who I’m going to pick. So I really based my decision on what the coaches said to me then and there and everyone said amazing things and my jaw dropped multiple times but Alicia, I felt like she really spoke to me and to the artist that I wanted to be. The keys words that really made it an absolutely yes for me was when she called me a ‘genre bending artist’ and that is exactly who I want to be. I want to kind of have that ambiguity because I never want to be put in a direct box because I like that I can reach you know a young 8-year-old black girl or you know a 70-year-old white male. You know what I’m saying? I don’t want there to be one crowd that I want to reach to. So the fact that she said genre bending was awesome for me because I have so many different musical influences. That’s just really important that people understand that I can’t be put into one exact box.”
WANE: Is singing the ultimate goal for you or what do you want to do with your life?
C.D.: “Yeah, I just didn’t expect to get this far so that’s what I’m still figuring out, but singing has clearly given me this wonderful platform and so I would be remiss if I didn’t use it and I love doing this. I also have a very strong passion for education and social work. Before this I wanted to get my masters in social work and then follow it up with my phD in social work and I would become a researcher for black mental health. I look at this as an opportunity and pursue singing and that just puts me on a platform where I can reach more people and educate them. So I like people feel like they usually have to choose one or the other. If singing takes off and I go on tour but I still would like to continue education, but school is always going to be there. I’m willing to go with the flow and pursue singing.”
WANE: Anything else you want to add, Christiana?
C.D.: “I just would like to give a shout out to my parents. They are the most supportive people I have in my life and they such a strong foundation. Without their encouragement I would not have gone. My dad took me to St. Louis and I was like, ‘Let’s just turn around, let’s turn this into a vacation.’ He was like, ‘No, you’re going to do it.’ And so just thanking my parents and thanking Fort Wayne. The support has been crazy. Like, my computer almost exploded with all the Facebook notifications and Twitter. So I just want to thank everybody and I really appreciate you guys. I just want to welcome you to my journey and kick butt.”