Teen Powerhouses of The Voice Season 15

After weeks of competition, this past Tuesday, the winner of Season 15 of NBC’s The Voice was finally announced. Sixteen-year-old country singer Chevel Shepherd ended up on top, becoming the second youngest person in the history of the series to reign victorious. Indeed, an array of teens took over this season of the show, surpassing adult music veterans as the competition progressed. In an exclusive interview, Shepherd, third runner-up Kennedy Holmes (14 years old), and top eight finalists Reagan Strange (14 years old) and Sarah Grace (15 years old) discuss their experience on the show, including why their outfits are crucial to performances.

Why did you decide to audition for The Voice?

Chevel: I always wanted to audition for a singing competition show since I was little because I love to perform and sing. I liked how different The Voice was from other shows because they don’t judge you on your look or your size. They actually listen to your voice, and the coaches are there to help mentor you and give you help. Other shows don’t offer that.

Kennedy: My mother suggested that I audition for The Voice because she loves watching blind auditions. I wanted the coaches to judge me based on my voice before they knew how young I was.

Sarah Grace: I auditioned for The Voice because I knew that it would be an opportunity to share my music that I would never have again. I also knew that I was going to make friends and connections through this experience that would last a lifetime.

Reagan: I’ve been watching The Voice since Season 1 when I was around six-years-old.  I’ve always had a passion for singing and being on this show was a dream of mine!

How did your coach help make you a better artist?

Kennedy: Jennifer [Hudson] has given me great advice. She encourages me to put more emotion into my performances, remember that I'm telling a story, and to always have fun!

Sarah Grace: My coach, Kelly Clarkson, really pushed me range-wise and somewhat genre-wise, especially in the Battle Rounds when I sang a pop song. Kelly was the main factor behind me playing Hammond B3 and I am so grateful that she was able to make that happen. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

Reagan: Adam [Levine] has been so good for me as a coach.  He has really worked to help me learn to connect emotionally with the songs I sing.  I have to learn to find something that I can attach to the song so the audience can translate the emotion.

Chevel: Kelly helped me become a better artist by giving me advice. She told me to be myself no matter what and to always give my best performance because whatever happens, I gave that performance my all. She encouraged me to have fun with every performance and gave me confidence in myself. Kelly helped me immensely as a person and as an artist, and I wouldn’t trade any of this experience for the world!

How was performing in the live shows different from the pre-recorded episodes? Did you have a different mindset for each?

Reagan: First off, the live shows are much faster paced than the pre-recorded episodes.  We have full schedules daily, including school for us minors. Show days are much more intense, as we have press and a full run to make sure the live show goes off without a hitch.  There is a lot more mental preparation in a short amount of time for each round, and a lot to think about to make sure we each bring a solid performance each week.

Chevel: Performing in the live shows was different from pre-recordings. I loved the different stage in the live shows and the energy of all of the people in the mosh pits! I did have a different mindset. During the live shows, it’s up to America to vote, so I knew I had to connect with the audience, put my heart and soul into the song I was singing, and give my best performance so America would love it!

Kennedy: The biggest difference is that there is no room for error when we're recording live, so you have to be at your best for your performance. I try to do my absolute best whether it's during a pre-recorded episode or live show.

Sarah Grace: The live shows were so different from the pre-recorded episodes because the energy was higher, the preparation was shorter, and the week leading up to them was insanely busy. We worked nonstop once we arrived in Los Angeles for the live shows. I personally prefer the live shows because of the high-energy, fast-paced environment and the number of performances that we were doing. Honestly, I can't say that I had a certain mindset for each because every performance was completely different, so I wasn’t able to develop a routine or any expectations.

What was it like working with the hair/makeup team? Did you have a vision going into your beauty sessions?

Sarah Grace: I loved working with the hair/makeup team because they are so talented and work so hard to make sure that our visions come true. For the blind audition, I didn't go in with a certain vision or inspiration photos and it turned out great. But later, I learned that showing the team pictures of my ideas went a long way because they would know what I was going for. The team was so amazing and I really enjoyed working with them--you really do come out of glam feeling like a rockstar.  The wardrobe, hair, and makeup team were amazing at ensuring you feel confident and giving you one less thing to worry about as prepare for your performance.

Chevel: It was amazing to work with the hair and makeup team! I loved getting pampered because I don’t ever wear makeup! Sometimes, I looked on Pinterest for ideas but I liked to keep my makeup fresh and natural because that’s who I am.

Reagan: I’m really going to miss The Voice’s Glam team after the show is over!  The ladies all work so hard to make each of us look amazing each week.  Before I go in, I like to look at Pinterest to find styles I think would look good with my outfit. I also look at makeup for eyes to see what I think would look good. We all work together to figure out my final look.

Kennedy: It's so much fun working with the hair and makeup team. I give them examples of what I like, and we may go with exactly that look. Sometimes we end up with a different but even better look.

How did you decide which outfits to wear during your performances? Did the clothes match the mood of the song you were singing?

Chevel: The Voice team and I picked my outfits together. We took the song I’m singing under consideration and picked something that went with it. I especially loved the dresses and boots I wore on the show. They were my fave!

Kennedy: I work together with the wardrobe department to find the best outfits based on the song I'm singing. Another department makes sure the outfit looks good on TV, too.

Reagan: We work with the amazing Voice wardrobe staff to make sure we are dressed appropriately for the performance.  There are a lot of things that can influence outfit choices, including the tone of the song, the genre, the message, and the stage setup the designers have created. It’s a process!

Sarah Grace: The show provided us with different options of clothing after we sent them style boards with outfits that we would be comfortable wearing. I definitely tried to make sure that my wardrobe matched the vibe of the song I was singing so that the whole performance was coherent.

What is your favorite outfit you wore on The Voice?

Kennedy: My favorite outfit has to be what I wore for my semifinals performance, "Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston. The long skirt was so beautiful!

Reagan: I love them all, but I still receive so many compliments on my outfit from the Blind Audition.  I think people just loved the bright green color and ruffles down the pantsuit. My mom really loved the outfit I wore for “You Say.” So maybe I should say that one!

Sarah Grace: My favorite outfit was what I wore for the Live Playoffs Results show. I loved the simplicity of the outfit, and it went so well with my hair and makeup for the night.

Chevel: It would have to be the dress I wore for my first live show! The big, blue, flowered dress was gorgeous, and the boots were beautiful as well!

Did your style evolve during your time on the show?

Chevel: My style really hasn’t changed much at all. I loved all of the big fancy dresses and beautiful boots--I feel like a country princess!

Sarah Grace: I definitely became more open to different clothing options and color combinations. This experience was a really fun way to stretch out my style because The Voice is an environment that allows you to push yourself in positive ways. Some of the things I tried were tights, shorts, leather jackets, and some fun shoes. They also convinced me to try a crop top, but it was with a jacket and high-waisted jeans,  so it was still very modest and totally my style. I love the way The Voice styled me.

Kennedy: I think my style has changed a little bit. There are some things that I wouldn't normally wear that I don't mind wearing now.

Reagan: I think that working with the wardrobe staff has been helping me consistently grow with the performances while staying true to being a 14-year-old girl.

Did your coach's style inspire you at all?

Sarah Grace: I love the fact that Kelly Clarkson is able to wear modest, tasteful clothing and still have a fantastic career. She is a great role model because is able to stay true to herself, her style, and her roots (shoutout to Texas!) and still find success.

Reagan: Ha! I love Adam’s style for a guy. Not so much for me!

Chevel: My coach’s style didn’t really inspire me. Kelly and I are so different! She sings pop music and I sing country, so we both have a different style in general. But she has great style and I love her to death!

Kennedy: Jennifer’s outfits definitely inspire me, especially when she's wearing sparkly clothing.

How important is fashion to your performance?

Reagan: Gosh, performances are a total package, so I would say it’s very important! Plus, I get so many compliments on my outfits, it makes it feel so good afterward! We all know a girl likes to feel good!

Kennedy: Fashion is very important to performances. You have to dress the part of the character in order to fully tell the story during your performance.

Chevel: I want to make sure I look good while I sing, so I really do enjoy being fashionable while I am on stage doing what I love!

Sarah Grace: Performing is not only about the execution of the music, but it's also about how you carry yourself, what you choose to wear, and your overall demeanor from the moment you step on the stage until you exit. Fashion is important to me because it’s one more way that I’m able to express and present myself as a professional while still showing my personality.

Follow the Girls on Instagram:

Chevel: @officialchevelshepherd

Kennedy: @imkennedyholmes

Reagan: @imreaganstrange

Sarah Grace: @sarahgraceandthesoul