Farmington teenager Chevel Shepherd used her voice to win this season’s “The Voice” TV singing competition, but she’s since lost that same voice.
Since being announced the winner during Tuesday night’s show, the 16-year-old country singer has been swept up in a whirlwind of publicity, and her throat is taking a beating.
“I’m going to give that a break after all the interviews are over,” she said, barely audibly during a phone interview with The Durango Herald on Friday from California, where she has been since Nov. 3.
Shepherd, a junior at Farmington High School, will be given a hero’s welcome Saturday in her home town. It will start with a police and fire escort through Aztec and Flora Vista and end with a welcome home rally at the high school.
The 16-year-old won $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Music group, and she’s already planning to begin work on an album after the new year, she said.
Shepherd’s journey to “Voice” victory began in February, she said. During the third episode of blind auditions, which aired in October, she chose to be on singer Kelly Clarkson’s team, causing quite a stir because she did not go with Blake Shelton, who seemed the obvious choice for a fellow country singer.
After much back and forth between the two judges, Shepherd ultimately went with Clarkson, and from there, it was not long before she was selected as the grand prize winner.
“It seems like it went by quick,” Shepherd said, adding that her life is already beginning to change.
“People (are) just noticing me and stuff,” she said. “It’s been crazy.”
Now, she is headed home for the holidays, and she said she will be back in school after the break.
For the teen, “getting to spend time with all the other artists and creating such great friendships” was the best part of the adventure. But, she said, being away from her father was a challenge.
Shepherd said that as a teenager coming from a small, Four Corners city, her experience has left her with pretty big life lessons.
“You can do anything your heart desires, and you should always follow your dreams and always be yourself,” she said.