When Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine met Karli Webster of Canyon Country, they probably thought they were listening to a seasoned performer who trained for years to appear in front of millions of viewers on “The Voice.”
Indeed, the 20-year-old Webster will appear on TV as a contestant on this season of “The Voice” in one of the “Blind Audition” episodes, scheduled to air September 25, 26, October 2 and 3. But it’s the young singer’s talent — not her experience — that got her there. Her family and friends hounded Webster to compete, which she dismissed season after season, never expecting to truly make the cut.
“They believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Webster said. “I was proving to myself that I could do it, more than proving it to them — they knew I was going to be just fine on that stage.”
Last February she agreed to go to the open call in Las Vegas, so en route to Nevada, Webster thought it might be a good idea to decide on her audition songs. She chose Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and “The Story,” a folk rock number recorded by Brandi Carlile.
“I finally picked those on the way there,” Webster said. “They felt most true to who I am as a performer. And they were songs that were easy for me to sing — I felt comfortable doing them under pressure.”
Underscoring the part destiny has played in Webster’s bright future, she was named for Carly Simon, she said, and considers herself a vintage ‘70s folk rock artist, for the most part. That fact also may offer a clue about the hush-hush content of the first four shows.
“It’s going to be a little bit different from the other blind auditions,” Webster said. “I have a different style than a lot of the other singers who’ve been on the show.”
The Santa Clarita native said she didn’t really sleep the night before “The Voice” taping.
“But the day of, I had so much peace,” she said. “I was confident about the work I put into my song. I was just grateful for the experience.”
Andrea Vibe of Vibe Performing Arts Studios in Santa Clarita is Webster’s go-to voice coach when she wants feedback or needs polishing before an important performance. She got her vocal talent from her father, Ronson Webster, and took piano lessons from the age of 4 from Suzy Hanna, but her performance experience is minimal. Webster sang locally at Heart of the Canyons Church and took part in musicals at ESCAPE Theatre and Canyon High School, plus performed a few original songs at It’s a Grind in Castaic.
“Doing ‘The Voice’ was me forcing myself to finally get out there,” she said. “I’ve never sung in front of an audience that big. It was wonderful meeting all of those coaches. They treat all the artists with so much respect. They are all so amazing.”
An even bigger audience will watch the coaches and talented contestants when they tune in to NBC for the ‘Blind Audition’ episodes. Best of all, they’ll find out how they treated Karli, the local voice with the “vintage vibe.”