Two days after Molly Stevens sang on NBC's "The Voice" — and got picked to be on Team Kelly Clarkson — the Macon, Ga., native was back in her hometown, greeted with cheers at the high school where she graduated and later taught.
Stevens, who has lived in Raleigh for the past four years with her fiance, Ashlee, compared the experience to a fantasy.
"They had a huge welcome home party for me, and it was amazing," Stevens said in a recent phone interview. "The whole school was there and chanting my name. It was one of those things, I told somebody yesterday — when I was like 2 years old I had this fantasy of that happening in my life, and it totally just happened."
Stevens sang Patti Griffin's "Heavenly Day" during her blind audition on the March 1 episode of "The Voice," prompting chair turns from both Clarkson and Blake Shelton. “You’re not confined to one thing, you don’t sound like every other country artist,” Clarkson told Stevens that night.
Stevens — along with fellow North Carolina contestants Britton Buchanan (Stevens calls him "an old soul") and Rayshun LaMarr — will perform in the Battle Rounds phase of "The Voice" this week.
In the short bio that ran prior to her performance, Stevens talked about growing up gay in Macon, the granddaughter of a Baptist preacher. “Being a Southern Baptist, I thought that was a big sin and that I was going to go to hell for it,” she said in the video.
She referenced tense family relationships after coming out, but said everything is good now. Her mom and dad attended her audition along with her fiance, who owns the Chick-Fil-A franchise at Cameron Village. Her parents, along with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and grandmother, all still live in Macon.
Stevens admitted that her grandmother still makes her a bit nervous.
"My dad called me and said that she was so proud of me and watched the whole episode," she said. "It’s really cool, because I was a little nervous about my grandmother (nervous laugh). She’s an old school Southern Baptist.
"That’s actually been something really cool," Stevens said. "That 'The Voice' has actually helped bring family together."
Music helps 'express who I am'
Stevens comes from a family with a strong musical background and said she's been singing since she was 2 years old.
"My mom’s side of the family is very musical and my grandfather who passed away, who was shown on the show, that’s really where I got my musical ability and creativity from," she said. "Everybody on my mom’s side of the family all sang. I think I was the only either dumb or smart one to go on with it."
Her early singing was primarily gospel music — she sang on her grandfather's weekly television show and performed before 10,000 people at a Billy Graham Crusades event when she was about 10 years old.
"I didn’t know any different than to not be performing," Stevens said. "When I got older, I was really able to figure out my own voice, and music became just a way for me to deal and to express who I am."
5 Questions with Molly Stevens
Q: Apart from performing and getting picked, what’s your strongest memory from audition day?
I think seeing my family and seeing Ashlee on that day, just, filled me with emotion and I could feel their pride for me and their love for me, and getting to see that together, you know, my fiancee and parents sharing this moment. It was really powerful.
Q: Is there an artist whose music you hope to sing on the show?
I love Brandi Carlile, I’m a huge fan. And of course I got really lucky because Patty Griffin is probably my favorite artist and I already got to cover one of her songs, and that was great.
Q: Being on Team Kelly, what’s your favorite Kelly Clarkson song?
Q: How do you describe your personality?
Today in my life I think my personality is authentic. I try to be as real as I can be. I’m very positive, I’m a positive thinker and I’m very driven and I like to have fun. I’m happy.
Q: Have your fans given you a hashtag yet?
Yes, it's #TeamMollyStevensYall. I love that.
Watch 'The Voice'
“The Voice” airs at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on NBC.