The Voice’s Mikaela Astel: Making Her Mark on Music
These past few seasons of The Voice, the competition has opened up to a wider range of ages. Following 16-year-old Chevel Shepherd’s win in December, New York native Mikaela Astel decided to try and earn her spot on one of the Season 16 coaches’ teams. Not only is 14-year-old Astel skilled in aerial silks, but she has been perfecting her vocal craft for half of her lifetime, performing in numerous productions and open mics around New York City. Both Kelly Clarkson and John Legend turned their chairs after hearing Astel’s rendition of Borns’ “Electric Love,” which she simultaneously played on the guitar. She ultimately chose Clarkson’s team after witnessing the celebrity’s enthusiasm over her voice: “It is beautiful, it is round, but it’s very angelic as well. I hear a little Regina Spektor, a little Julia Michaels. It’s so interesting and cool and vibey and it’s so different. I think that that’s really important in this kind of competition.” Although Astel was eliminated during the Battle rounds following a duet to Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” with country harmonic duo The Bundys (the first four-person battle in the franchise’s history), it’s safe to say that the show has kick-started her career.
When did you first get into singing?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I grew up with my sister and grandma always singing around me—my grandma sang in the church choir. Hearing all that singing made me want to sing as well, although I sound a little scary when I was little.
What singers inspire you and why?
Aurora, Ed Sheeran, and Birdy. I love their special sounds, but I also love how unique and descriptive their lyrics are. They really make you feel something and their songs are very different from most on the radio.
Why did you decide to audition for The Voice?
I was contacted by a producer to audition. Of course, I said yes because it was something I always thought about doing. I love The Voice because you are only based on your sound, not on what you look like, and it was a good way for me to see if my voice was something special.
What was your pre-audition routine like?
My pre-audition routine involved lots of warm-ups and practice, having an essential oil diffuser on every night, tons of tea, and a whole lot of stressing out. I had never done anything like that before, so I was preparing in every way possible.
How did you decide which song you wanted to sing in the Blinds?
I wanted to sing “Electric Love” in the Blinds because it was a song I felt could showcase the different parts of my voice. My friend recommended that I cover it a while ago, and from the second I heard it, I fell in love with it. I love its originality and how there’s nothing else like it.
Why did you pick Kelly Clarkson as your coach?
I picked Kelly as my coach because I felt a connection to her at that moment. I think she is incredibly talented and really cares about her artists. I didn’t have a set decision on who I wanted to pick beforehand because all the coaches are amazing, but I was just drawn to her at that time. I love her personality and artistry.
Which was the most challenging round: the Blinds or Battles?
I think the Blinds is the most challenging round because it’s your first impression. You‘re really hoping you don’t mess up because you don’t have much time to impress the coaches. When Kelly and John turned around, I started freaking out because I was actually performing for them. Although the Battles are challenging since you have to harmonize and compromise with other artists, you’ve already seen what your coach likes, and it’s a more comfortable environment.
What was your favorite part of being a contestant on the show?
Everything I learned from the experience and how many talented people I met. I can definitely say I’ve made lifelong friends from the show. It was such an incredible opportunity that I am so grateful to have had. Even though I didn’t get too far, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
What is your endgame? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to start releasing my original music. My main focus in music is songwriting. To be able to share it with so many people and have others feel inspired by it and connect with it would just be so amazing.
This or That:
Lady Gaga or Billie Eilish? Billie Eilish. I love her lyrics and unique calming sound.
Pop or country music? Pop.
Milkshakes or fries? Milkshakes.
Rome or The Bahamas? The Bahamas.
Dresses or rompers? Dresses, especially 1950s-style ones!