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Nov13WedAppearing on The Voice was just the beginning for country singer Emily Ann Roberts. November 13, 2019 by Kristin Ostensen
Emily Ann Roberts took a deep breath as she stepped onto the dimly lit stage for her blind audition for The Voice. More than 12 million people were watching, but only four mattered—the judges sitting in the red chairs, turned away so they could not see her. They’d only hear her sing.
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“It was surreal because I had watched the show at home, so to be standing on that stage and staring at those red chairs was crazy,” she recalls.
As she heard the familiar notes of I Hope You Dance and began to sing, Emily Ann put her nerves aside, determined to simply do her best. But would any of the judges choose her? She got her answer before she’d even finished the first verse.
“When Adam Levine turned around, I realized, this is not a dream; I’m really here doing this.”
Finding Her Voice
Emily Ann was delighted as not just one, but two judges chose her, the other being country superstar Blake Shelton. With his guidance, Emily Ann went all the way to the finale, finishing as runner-up.
When she appeared on The Voice in 2015, Emily Ann was only 16, but she had already been singing for several years.
“The first time I ever sang in public was at my church in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Grade 6,” she says.
That year, Emily Ann auditioned for a school talent show, but was rejected. Determined to make it the following year, she learned to play guitar.
“That opened up a whole new world for me because I could sing and accompany myself,” she notes. She not only made it into the school talent show the next year but soon started playing at various restaurants and competitions.
"The Voice was an incredible learning experience and I wouldn’t trade my time there for the world."
Landing a spot on The Voice took her music career to a whole new level.
“It was the greatest blessing,” says Emily Ann. “It was an incredible learning experience and I wouldn’t trade my time there for the world.”
Still, she admits that living in Los Angeles for almost six months while the show was filming wasn’t always easy.
“Being away from home was hard,” Emily Ann says. “And it was a busy schedule—we’d get picked up at 5 a.m., sit through hair and makeup, and do media interviews before I’d go to school. Then we’d have our live performances that night.
“The whole journey of The Voice was so great,” she continues, “but if I didn’t have my relationship with the Lord, I don’t know if I would have been able to be calm and stable through all of it.”
As well as launching her music career, The Voice gave Emily Ann a platform to share her faith. “I’d prayed that the Lord would open the door for me to sing a hymn called In the Garden on the show,” she says. “When Blake saw it on my list, he said he loved that song and picked it for me to sing.”
Emily Ann’s performance of In the Garden was a hit, reaching number 34 on the U.S. country chart and number 3 on the U.S. Christian chart.
Faith Over Fear
Now 21, Emily Ann is a seasoned, confident performer. This summer, she was included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 20 best performances at CMA Fest 2019, alongside artists such as Lil Nas X and Trisha Yearwood.
Her audiences would never imagine she once struggled with anxiety so severe, she couldn’t even get out of bed.
“When I was in Grade 8, my grandmother was really sick with Alzheimer’s,” Emily Ann shares. “I was the type of girl who didn’t want to get upset in front of anybody—I didn’t want to act like anything bothered me—but it was hard for me to see her like that. Instead of talking about it and dealing with it in a healthy way, I bottled up everything I was feeling, and that’s when I started struggling hard with anxiety.”
The road to recovery began with a heart-to-heart conversation with her mom where Emily Ann finally shared what was troubling her. After they talked, Emily Ann started reading the Bible and came across Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“I held on to those verses so tightly,” she says, “and for the first time in my life, I stopped trying to handle things on my own. Instead, I surrendered my life to the Lord because I know I cannot do it alone.”
Looking back, Emily Ann says that she never would have been able to become a professional singer if she hadn’t overcome her anxiety. But thanks to her faith, fear doesn’t hold her back anymore. “I choose to trust God, to trust that He is in control and He has a good plan, so I don’t have to worry.”
Since The Voice finished, Emily Ann has been hard at work, writing and performing her own songs. The fruit of that hard work is now on display as she recently released her first EP, Someday Dream.
To promote the album, Emily Ann had the opportunity to return to The Voice and debut the title track. As she finished singing, she received a standing ovation.
“It was a full circle moment for me because that was where I got my start,” she says. “When I was a contestant, I was singing other people’s songs; I got to go back and share Emily Ann. This is me, this is my heart and my song. To be able to do that was a dream come true.”