At the start of 2018, Brynn Cartelli was a typical freshman at Longmeadow High School balancing homework and after-school sports—plus singing and playing the piano and guitar whenever she could. Flash forward to her blind audition on The Voice . . . when chair-turning judge Kelly Clarkson predicted that “Brynn will be the youngest person ever to win this show” . . . and her world was about to change forever.
We caught up with this talented 15-year-old about 36 hours after her historic win as the youngest-ever winner on The Voice to hear about her experience on the show, how she describes her co-finalists and where life will be taking her now.
Justine: We are HUGE fans of yours and are so proud of your success on The Voice. So take us back to Brynn before The Voice and tell us about her.
Brynn: “Before The Voice I went to school, played sports for school after school; my life revolved around sports and school. That was very typical of my hometown; that’s what everyone was doing and I went along with it. And now I couldn’t be more thankful, because music has always been a passion in my life, and now that I’m being able to pursue it, it’s incredible.”
Justine: Tell us how your musical journey began as a singer. Do you also play instruments?
Brynn: I’ve always been a big fan of music in general and started piano when I was about 5 or 6. That’s when the whole discovery of making music myself and being a part of it, instead of just being a fan, became real to me and my family. I was never the one that they had to tell to practice—I could have done music all day long! I started taking singing lessons from a man in my hometown, Peter Thomsen, and he has been so helpful to me, even in this process. Another person who really helped me was my music teacher Mike Smith; he’s one of the first people who really got me onstage to sing with him and he also taught me guitar. I really thank those two guys for getting me out there and believing in me. I’ve played a few local places here and there, but coming from western Massachusetts, there’s not as much opportunity to sing there, and now to be out here in California and see the world in a different perspective, it’s amazing.”
Justine: And you’re writing music as well? How do you tackle that process?
Brynn: My best songs happen when I start on piano, usually I write while playing the piano. Most times I hear something in my head with a lyric and I start writing. I’ll just write when I’m inspired by something.
Justine: You always appeared so calm and collected each time you performed. What is your secret for not letting nerves get to you?
Brynn: I typically don’t get nervous on stage because it feels like a home to me—there’s a comfort there for me. But I was definitely very nervous for my blind; I didn’t expect to turn a chair. I’d hoped to, but the fact that two of them turned around and Kelly and Blake both gave these really good arguments for me, showing that they really cared and wanted to invest their time in me . . . I just felt honored.”
Justine: It was fun to watch the relationship between you and your coach Kelly grow. What was that like?
Brynn: Kelly and I almost have like a mother/daughter relationship. She’s so, so caring and genuinely cares about who I am as a person and about my well-being. I couldn’t imagine a better coach for me.
Justine: You looked amazing each time you performed! What was it like to get styled by the pros?
Brynn: I’m terrible at doing my hair, so the hair and makeup people would always make fun of me because I came to the hair department each day in a messy bun or ponytail. I would just say ‘Do me up – I’m ready!’
Justine: As one of the youngest ever on The Voice and the youngest to win, do you think that your age affected you in any way?
Brynn: I definitely don’t think that age defined me. People were impressed that I was there doing what I was doing at such a young age, but, at the same time, there were people who said I needed to grow up before I was here—everyone else had more experience than me. I didn’t let my age get in the way of anything; I didn’t want that to be something that defined me.
Justine: It was evident that you made a lot of friends within this process. Can you give us a quick word or two to describe the other 3 finalists?
Brynn: Britton is literally my best friend—we’ve grown to be like brother and sister on this show; I would describe him as ‘brother.’ Spensha would be ‘sweetheart’ because she’s just so sweet. Kyla has to be ‘queen’ because she’s an actual queen! I love her!
Justine: What’s up for you in the next few months?
Brynn: I’m going home to finish this school year and settle back into a little bit of what life was like before, but it’s definitely all about the future for me right now. I can’t wait to make music and create what I’ve been dying to do since I was young.
Justine: Any advice to young girls who have a dream similar to yours?
Brynn: It would be to just work incredibly hard, and if you want it, you’ll want to work hard. That’s how you know. That’s how I proved to myself that I wanted to get here, and it sounds really cliche but it’s not always going to be easy and you’re going question it a lot. But if your working really hard and continuing to work really hard for something, you’re invested in it and it’s just worth it in the end.