By Keysha Drexel
Earlier this year, Jessie Pitts had pretty much decided that her dream of being a successful singer and songwriter would never happen.
But since being told by Gwen Stefani that she has the voice of an angel, the Hoover native has changed her tune.
Pitts, a 2013 graduate of Spain Park High School, recently competed “The Voice,” a reality TV singing competition on NBC that features a panel of judges made up of music royalty.
Pitts was eliminated from the show last week after previously making it through a nerve-wracking knock-out round in late October.
But Pitts was really close to never even auditioning for the show where she received advice from the likes of Stefani, Shelton and Taylor Swift.
“I auditioned for the show two years ago in Atlanta, and although I got a call-back, I didn’t make it to the next level,” Pitts said. “So when my friend from high school begged me to audition back in February, I didn’t want to — at first.”
Pitts said that’s because back in February, she had decided to throw all of her energy into completing a degree in music business at Belmont University.
“I didn’t make it the first time I auditioned for ‘The Voice’ and at Belmont, I auditioned to be a performance voice major and I didn’t get that, so I was thinking that career-wise, singing wasn’t meant to be for me,” Pitts said. “But now, I think otherwise.”
As a part of season seven of “The Voice,” Pitts, 19, battled against other teenage contestants, received advice from Swift and from both Stefani and her musician husband, Gavin Rossdale, and was saved from being sent home by Shelton.
Pitts started out on Stefani’s team at the beginning of the season. In an episode in October, she battled against Ryan Sill and lost. But Shelton used his last “steal” to make Pitts a member of his team and keep her in the competition.
“The whole thing has been very humbling, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” she said. “I know that if it wasn’t for God and for my family, I would have never have made it this far.”
Pitts is one of six children and said her parents have always been her biggest supporters. In fact, it was her father who first inspired her to learn to sing, she said.
The family lived on a farm in Tennessee until they moved to Hoover when Pitts was about 11 years old.
“My dad inspired me to start singing when I was really young. He’s a musician, and he raised us on great music. He even built a stage in our barn in Tennessee for me,” she said. “And my mom is my biggest fan, and it’s so wonderful to see her so excited about everything that’s happening with the show.”
After the family moved to Hoover, Pitts got involved with choirs at school.
“I just fell in love with performing, with being up on the stage and connecting with the crowd, so I think I was a member of every choir in middle and in high school,” she said. “I remember the first solo I had when I was 15 changed my life. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life.”
But after that first disappointing audition with “The Voice,” Pitts said she had her doubts that she was on the right path.
“I never stopped wanting to sing, but I thought that maybe I should have another plan, so I moved to Nashville to work at a record label and to study music business at Belmont,” she said. “In my heart of hearts, my dream was to be the person whose music is being promoted by a record label, but I thought that if I couldn’t do that, at least I could help promote other people’s music.”
But now, Pitts said, she is more focused than ever on achieving her dream to bring her music to as many people as possible.
“I’m just so grateful for the confidence this whole experience has given me in my voice and in my dream to be a singer,” Pitts said. “And the support I’ve received from everyone back home just blows me away and totally makes me feel like I’m on the right path.”