By Angie Antonopoulos
Growing up in Bargersville, Michelle Cox, 18, would hear soul, blues and country music playing at home, listening to artists such as Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Carrie Underwood. Now she’s singing that style of music on a national stage, competing on the 18th season of the NBC’s show, The Voice.
Cox, known as “Chelle” by friends, family and viewers, received a three-chair turn during the blind auditions on the show that aired Feb. 25. Blake Shelton turned first, followed by Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson, when she sang a soulful rendition of Billie Eilish’s “Idon’twannabeyouanymore.”
“It was validation that my tone and pitch was enough to get them to turn around,” Cox said. “When Blake turned around, it was a relief. Then I saw Nick turn. I could see he was feeling it.”
Cox chose Clarkson as her coach – someone she admired while growing up.
“When I was your age, I would overthink everything,” Kelly Clarkson told Cox on the show. “We’re singers and we want to do well, but we are also a storyteller.” Clarkson encouraged Cox to focus on the message and just let go. “I always loved Kelly,” Cox said. “Kelly kinda hit home with overthinking, to be 110 percent. I hope to soak in everything she tells me and further my career as a musician.”
Journey to The Voice
Cox, a preschool teacher, began singing when she was 2 years old and would sing whenever the opportunity presented itself. She began performing more than a decade ago, with Indianapolis’ Footlight Musicals, where she played one of the oompa-loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and as Pepper in the musical, “Annie.”
Cox also took voice lessons at GuitarWorks in Greenwood and participated in their program, Band Builders, where kids learn the principles of performing live music. “Michelle repeated the program and performed live and did this several times over several years. She’s done extremely well,” said Kevin Franklin, founder and owner of GuitarWorks. “It’s great to see someone go that far.”
Her mom, Tina Cox, was the one who encouraged her to audition for The Voice. One day, her mom asked Chelle, “You want to audition for The Voice and see what happens?” Chelle took the leap and began auditioning in 2015, traveling to nearby cities with her family. She caught the eye of show producers after she won WZPL’s “Front of the Line” contest in 2018. When it was time for her to perform in the blind auditions on The Voice, both parents were excited and nervous.
“You want your kid to do well,” her father, Tracy said. “She was probably 12 when we realized how amazing she is.”
Tina recalled how relieved she was when the first chair turned and said she remembered thinking, “Oh my God. This is real … We’re just going to have fun with it.”
Chelle now advances to The Voice’s “Battle Rounds,” which start at 8 p.m. ET, March 23, on NBC’s WTHR-13. You can follow Chelle on Twitter @_chellesue_.