Photo courtesy of the Padgett family.
0912 Mary Padgett The Voice
Chelsea High School’s Mary Padgett will be a contestant on an upcoming season of NBC’s The Voice.
In March, Mary Padgett received an invitation to audition for national television. Without her knowing, her dad had sent a video of her singing into NBC’s The Voice.
“I was a bit surprised but so excited for a chance to go,” said the Chelsea High School junior. “I knew my dad was up to something, but I had no idea when he surprised me with the news that I’d actually be able to audition.”
A member of the Liberty Baptist Church youth band, Mary has been singing in front of others since she could hold a microphone. Like many little girls, songs poured out of Mary as a toddler. When she was just two years old, she amazed her parents, Phillip and Stacy Padgett, when she would start to sing an acapella song off key, then stop and self-correct.
On audition day, Mary’s family loaded up and made the drive to Atlanta to find several thousand other hopefuls competing for a coveted spot. A line had formed around the outside of the building where auditions were being held.
“I’ve never been to something with so many people involved that moved so smoothly,” said Phillip Padgett about the audition process. “We were moving the whole time.”
Unlike what viewers see on shows like American Idol, hopefuls for The Voice go into rooms by groups to perform for judges, requiring confidence to sing acapella in front of many others. Mary was in a group of about 10 other contestants. Because 15 is the youngest age eligible to audition for the show, she was one of the youngest.
Mary was prepared to sing “One and Only,” made famous by British songstress, Adele.
“We’d been told that we may actually only be given a few seconds to sing, so we had to make it count,” Mary said. “I couldn’t believe it when another lady auditioning in my group stood up and sang that same song! She sang a few lines, and the judge asked her to sit down.”
Mary was determined that when her turn came, she would make the song her own. She began singing, and the judge let her keep going. And going. And going, until she had sung the whole song.
After completing the song, Mary sat down, and the audition group looked to the judge for reaction. “She thanked us for coming, told us she was impressed but that no one in our group would be continuing on,” Mary said.
The car ride back home to Chelsea began as a bit of a disappointment to Mary. “I looked at it like, hey, I’m young and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me,” she said. “It was a good experience and I was blessed to have been able to come to the audition.”
However, when the Padgetts stopped for gas, Mary’s dad got a call telling her family that she was being put on a list to be considered for a callback. They were told they could not make the news public and could only tell immediate family.
Life continued on for Mary as the school year drew to a close at Chelsea. She was awarded the Spirit of Chelsea Award for a tenth grade student, a type of best-all-around award voted on by the high school faculty. Finally, a call came to say that she had not been invited to another callback but that she would be sent straight through to appear on the show.
“My brain was going about 100 miles an hour trying to absorb the news,” Phillip said. “She’ll either sing in the summer or winter was all they would confirm.” This news was kept hidden from Mary until another call came saying the Padgetts could go public with Mary’s news.
Mary was given her surprise news by her pastor at the close of a worship service in front of her church. “It was such a big moment, and some of my friends were looking at me like, ‘What is going on?’” she said.
Mary has been given an assurance by her teachers and administrators at Chelsea that when she heads to Los Angeles to film the show, they’ll help her make up her schoolwork and will, of course, be rooting for her.
On the show, Mary will appear in front of four celebrity recording artists, and each judge will pick a team of 12. The judges mentor their teams along with other celebrities to prepare contestants for a battle round. Contestants are paired up with another team member to sing a duet. The judge then selects just one contestant from this duet to continue on, reducing their team to six. Then the show goes live and the show’s audience can contribute to the voting.
Until she goes to California, Mary said she’ll continue singing in church and being with her friends in her youth group. “I love worship,” she said. “I love alternative Christian music and worship music.” She counts Christian artist Kari Jobe among her musical favorites, along with Chris Tomlin, Adele, Carrie Underwood and John Mayer.
“Her whole aspect of coming to music was from church and our family,” Phillip said. “I’d say about 95 percent of Mary’s life involves music, entertainment or the arts.”
Mary played Tuptim in Chelsea High’s The King and I last spring and is part of the school’s girls’ show choir. She loves basketball but since the show will affect her school schedule, she’s planning to serve as team manager instead.
As she looks toward college, music will obviously be a top choice of study, possibly either musical theatre or music education.
“I just know this is what I’m meant to do,” she said.
For updates on when Mary will appear on The Voice, check back on 280Living.com.