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Voice contender started playing guitar as 6th grader
Sierra High graduate and The Voice contestant Lindsey Pavao, right, stands with coach Christina Aguilera. Pavao is one of six acts on Aguileras team and will move on to the battle phase of the competition. - photo by Photo Contributed

It took Lindsey Pavao less than 30 seconds to make an impact on the coaches of “The Voice.”

The Sierra High grad – who belted out a unique version of Trey Songz’ “Say Aah” for her blind audition take – managed to captivate the attention of pop superstar Christina Aguilera before she even finished the first verse.

By the time the song was over she had country crooner Blake Shelton and R&B sensation Cee Lo Green fighting over the right to add her to their respective rosters. It was  a surreal feeling for the Sacramento-area resident that auditioned at the behest of her boss and never expected getting past the initial round.

Anything that happens from here on out, she says, is like living out a dream.

“I was floored by Christina. I assumed that since my voice is kind of weird she might not like it so much – but she did,” said Pavao – who chose to be a part of Aguilera’s team. “I’m always impressed by her insightfulness. It was hard to keep going – it was like winning the lottery when the chairs started turning around.

“It’s something you imagine, but it’s never reality. Singing takes an energy – momentum – and when they started turning around it was like electricity and helped me finish the song.”

To date more than 400,000 people have viewed her blind audition video – where the four judges start with their back to the stage and turn around to signify that they want that person on their given team – on YouTube. A good portion of the recent comments on the official Trey Songz music video – which boasts more than 29,000,000 hits – are from people that discovered the song through her or note that they like her take more.

It’s great feedback for a music lover that credits garage and experimental rock groups like Incubus, Radiohead, Mars Volta and Nirvana with influencing her. She also appreciates certain pop artists like Robyn or Bjork and rappers like GDP, the Childish Gambino and Doseone.

But she knows that she couldn’t have gotten where is right now by herself.

It was a friend from Pavao’s first band – Travis Owen – that helped her open her eyes to musical styles and philosophies and literature. The two wrote songs together, and Owen served as a mentor in the arenas of performing live, booking shows and producing music.

Her love for music, however, started at a much younger age.

As a sixth grader Pavao began with violin lessons before moving on to the guitar. By the time she reached high school she had already begun dabbling with writing her own music and was well on her way to joining her first band at age 15 – performing as A Colourado in Manteca and Modesto at small venues.

“I was always a shy performer so that was something that I had to learn how to get over,” she said. “Honestly, when I got on stage for ‘The Voice’ I knew that nobody knew who I was so I could be that confident performer and shed that shy persona that I usually had.

“I enjoyed a lot of things about being up there. I enjoyed the crowd – they were so excited and loud. I enjoyed working with the house band in rehearsals. I enjoyed the coaches and their wonderful input. It was the most surprisingly lovely reaction that I could hoped for.”

And if it weren’t for her boss at the time, she might not have ever made time to go to San Francisco for the open tryouts that landed her a callback and eventually a performance before the four coaches – Aguilera, Green, Shelton and Adam Levine – that has made her a household name.

“My boss at the time, Deb, from a bar called Pinky’s in Nicolaus (Sutter County) told me that I had to audition,” Pavao said. “I had heard a little bit about the show from commercials or clips and it seemed really interesting and musically progressive the way it looked at tone and not the showiness of the performers.

“I didn’t even watch the first season until after my callbacks. I didn’t see myself getting in – especially in San Francisco with thousands of amazing singers auditioning.”

With the opportunity before her now, she hopes to soak up as much from the experience as she possibly can while applying everything that she knows with the hopes of making music her career.

“I’d really like to make art and tour – that’s where my head is at,” Pavao said. “I want to touch as many people as I can with my music and this show is a great showcase for me. I get to dabble in re-writing arrangements for cover songs, but ultimately I want to make albums and hit the road.

“I want to jump around with rowdy crowds and sing and be inspired. This show has inspired me. It has really changed my life and shown me that my dream is within reach.”