KSU Starlets Test Their Talents on TV

Kent State student Claudia Hoyser (left) recently auditioned for The Voice, reality singing competition, and Nancy Wilson (right) has made it to the Hollywood round of American Idol.

Kent State student Claudia Hoyser (left) recently auditioned for “The Voice,” reality singing competition, and Nancy Wilson (right) has made it to the Hollywood round of “American Idol.”

Aja Phillips

Music can open many pathways, and having a powerful singing voice can take you far – especially with today’s plethora of reality competitions. Two Kent State students put their voices to the ultimate test.

So what do you need if you want to take a shot at stardom? Talent in singing and songwriting are a must, but a strong support group is also an important part of the equation.

Nancy Wilson, junior visual design major, auditioned for “American Idol” last July in Detroit. She’s been singing since the age of two, and in seventh grade she was asked to join the Baldwin Wallace Choir.

This wasn’t her first go-around trying out for a reality show, though. She’s auditioned for American Idol a total of three times, and tried out for X-Factor and The Voice once. She even tried out for Kent State’s Kent Clarks a capella group when she was a sophomore, but they turned her down.

For her most recent audition, Wilson had to sing two songs in front of the judges. Being primarily a country singer, she chose “There is no Arizona” by Jamie O’Neal and “Stay” by Sugarland. Both songs allowed her to demonstrate her strong range and tone of voice.

Even with all her experience, Wilson felt the pressure of the judges.

“I’m not usually nervous,” she said, but, “Keith Urban was there, and it was to die for.”

She thought “American Idol” would be perfect for her this time around because of the timing of the audition. Wilson’s birthday is July 22, and the tryouts were the day before.

“It was around my birthday, and a chance is a chance,” she said. “All I wanted to do is sing, and even though it’s a long shot … I went for it.”

Wilson performs in local shows around Medina and hopes to some day make it in Nashville.

“In five years, I’d like to have a four-track out of my own songs and a single release,” she said. “Singing competitions are like my life! It’s really good practice.”

Aside from just singing, Wilson plays piano and guitar, but she said she was never good at actually reading music. She learned by listening to the notes rather than following a paper.

That doesn’t stop her from writing her own song, although school prevents her from writing as much as she could otherwise.

“When inspiration hits [me], I’ll write. I’ll probably write three songs a yea. Unless something really good hits me, I can write in a day,” she said.

Claudia Hoyser, sophomore communication studies major, is another country singer writing her own songs and trying to make it big. Hoyser recently auditioned for The Voice in Chicago. She got through the first round of the competition on Jan. 19, and went back for callbacks on Jan. 22. She choose to sing “American Honey” by Lady Antebellum, which is one of her favorite country artists’ songs.

Her songwriting is more sporadic, despite a school schedule.

“I write when something big happens. If I’m really happy or really sad, it will spark an idea,” she said. “I can sometimes write three songs a month, then go into a drought after five months and start over.”

Now she gets inspiration from friends and their relationships, but her love for singing stems from childhood, when her parents bought her a karaoke machine one Christmas.

“I had a solo in the fifth-grade choir and started writing songs in my diaries as a little girl,” Hoyser said. “I’ve always wanted to be a singer.”

While Hoyser has sung and played mainstream pop hits in the local bars of her hometown of Rochester, New York, this was her first time singing in a competition.

“I have been waiting for an opportunity like this to come along for along time,” Hoyser said. “’The Voice’ auditions just happened to be at the perfect place and at the right time for me this year.”

Like Wilson, she sees herself in Nashville in the future. She wants to be on Team Blake if she gets on the show.

“He’s a great person as well as an artist and can really help me,” Hoyser said. “He puts his team members in the right direction, even after the show.”    

Even though the girls are still pretty small town, they’re continuing to chase their dreams.

“It already has been an amazing experience, and I would do it over and over again,” Hoyser said.

For anyone else thinking about auditioning for shows like these, Wilson said to take the risk.

“Definitely go for it,” she said. “Even if you don’t make it, you gain so much experience from it.”

Hoyser also has practical advice after being trapped in line for hours.

“Come prepared and bring your water,” she said, referring to the dry mouth she suffered from during her experience. “Know the songs in and out. Don’t second-guess anything. Even if you’re terrified, just be confident.”

Follow both Nancy Wilson and Claudia Hoyser‘s stories and listen to them sing on their YouTube channels.

Contact Aja Phillips at [email protected]