If Katelyn Read had to go home following a performance on “The Voice,” she’s happy she ended on a high note.
Read, a singer-songwriter who lives in Cary, was eliminated Monday on NBC’s reality singing competition after her coach, Christina Aguilera, picked 17-year-old Treeva Gibson in the show’s Battle Rounds. Aguilera pitted the two singers against each other on an alternative version of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.”
“I felt like I left it all out there on the stage,” said Read, 25, Tuesday in a phone interview. “I did the best I could. I’m happy to have left with such a strong performance.”
Another Triangle contestant, Lowell Oakley III, of Durham, sung his way through a tough battle to stay on Pharrell Williams’ team.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“Lord, I’m just so thankful,” said Oakley, a 19-year-old graduate of Durham Academy, on Monday’s show. He’s a freshman at Elon University.
In the second phase of “The Voice” competition, each coach picks two singers from his or her team to perform a duet, though only one singer will remain on the team. Sometimes, the battle results in a clear winner, while others produce revelatory performances with both singers equally matched.
Once the coach declares who wins the battle, the other coaches can steal the remaining singer for their teams.
Read was hoping another coach – Blake Shelton, Adam Levine or Williams – might keep her around. That wasn’t the case, but Read has nothing but positive things to say about her fellow teammate and what she gained from the experience.
“They were all so kind,” she said of the people behind the show’s production and her fellow contestants. “There already are a lot of soft, singer-songwriter types (on the show). I understand, no problem. I really did learn a lot.”
In rehearsals, Aguilera and singer Nick Jonas pushed Read and Gibson not to hold back on the song, a rendition originally sung by Florence and the Machine. The song begs for intensity and Aguilera worried they wouldn’t live up to the potential of the haunting song. While Read is known for her bluesy, acoustic style, Gibson’s sound is more pop, making it a challenge to blend the two voices. Read also wasn’t familiar with the Florence and the Machine version.
Aguilera even had the singers let out a scream to “find a little bit of anger,” Read said. In a comical moment, both women let out soft yells.
“I don’t think I’ve ever screamed in my whole life,” Read said with a laugh. “We weren’t allowed to scream.”
Read said it was surreal to have Aguilera and Jonas watching her as she rehearsed and worked through the arrangement of the song. It was possibly more intimidating than singing to a large auditorium of people, she said.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “You have to overcome the nerves. You’re there to get input and suggestions from these people. To have such big names giving you feedback on your voice, it’s an honor.”
That said, Read acknowledged she doesn’t always take criticism well. But she came to realize she appreciated being challenged. That can only make her a better artist, she said.
“(Aguilera) really pushed me outside my comfort zone,” Read said. “She forced me to look at another side of myself as an artist. It forces you to see something differently.”
Following Read’s elimination, other coaches offered encouraging words of support. Levine told Read she had what it takes to make it the music industry. Aguilera even hugged her Read’s 5-year-old daughter, Rayleigh, who was in the studio watching her mother perform.
“I told Rayleigh, ‘One day you can tell your friends Christina Aguilera gave me a hug,’” Read said.
Read, who moved to Cary in 2013, is starting her singing career later than some; she has been a stay-at-home mom. In recent years, her husband, Chris, has encouraged her to pursue her dream. She has released a five-song EP, “She Can Feel It,” and has performed locally, including a recent stint at Deep South in Raleigh.
The club was packed, Read said, giving her one of the biggest turnouts she’s seen at one of her shows. She’s certain “The Voice” connection contributed to that.
She’s ready to move forward with the momentum the show has created for her career. She will be the opening act for Edwin McCain in May; she and her guitarist, David Dollar of Durham, will play an acoustic show at Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio. A week later, she will perform at the same venue with her full band.
She and Dollar meet weekly to play and write music, and while she is mostly performing her current music now, she will keep developing new material to record an album in the next year.
“The Voice” is an influence on at least one of her new songs, titled “We are Brave.”
“It’s not knowing what you’re capable of until you take that next step,” Read said. “I like to play it safe. This is one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Banov: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @JessicaBanov