By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Next month, Keizer resident Angie Brown hopes to become a finalist on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice.”
Two years ago, she was homeless.
Brown fell on hard times after losing a job.
“This was when the economy was really bad,” she recalled. “For two years we were homeless.”
Both Brown and her partner got paper routes three years ago and earned enough money to get a house for them and their daughter, now 11. Last year they adopted a son, now 15. Four months ago Brown started working at Birdie’s Bistro.
In the interim, there was the audition for “The Voice.”
“I applied two years ago, but I didn’t hear back for a while,” Brown said. “It was almost a year before I heard back. I had totally given up.”
Brown was one of 240 to audition. When she got the call, she went to Los Angeles as the field was narrowed to 60 applicants. On May 15, Brown got another call that she is part of a group of 10 finalists. She is flying to Cleveland, Ohio June 14 and needs to raise $1,000 to cover her flight, hotel and rental car costs. Donation jars are at Birdie’s Bistro, Town and Country Lanes and Southside Speakeasy.
“This time it will be smaller groups,” Brown said. “These are the people they liked last time. Who they pick is based on the genre. Usher and Shakira were the judges last year. This year they are changing judges. I’m going to stick to what I do, which is blues and rock. I’ll stick to being myself.”
In Cleveland, Brown will be singing and going through an interview process for two days. If she makes it through, she will next spend two more weeks in Cleveland, followed by two weeks a month later in Los Angeles and then six weeks starting in September for the finale.
Brown has been through the show’s interview process once.
“This time it’s a lot more nerve-racking, because I know something is on the line,” Brown said. “This time it will be smaller groups, with the people they liked last time. I’m anxious, nervous and excited. I’m so excited. I’m doing a lot of praying and hoping things work out.”
Singing has long been a part of life for Brown.
“I’ve been singing since I was real young,” she said. “I used to sing myself to sleep as a kid. My mom’s been telling me since I was little, ‘People need to hear you. You need to do a CD.’”
Brown really got into singing in fourth grade. When the family moved to Keizer the following year she sang at Keizer Elementary, followed by Whiteaker Middle School and then McNary High School, where she graduated in 2000. Brown was part of a Christian rock band in Portland for four years and then was in a classic rock band for two years.
Shana Schmidt, owner at Birdie’s Bistro, heard Brown sing for the first time recently.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, she is good!’” Schmidt said. “Plus she’s a great person. She’s always upbeat. She’s awesome to be around. She makes everyone’s day brighter. It’s super awesome she has this chance. We’re pulling for her to win.”
So is Brown.
“It would be life-changing,” she said of winning. “It would be a huge dream come true. I have always wanted to do this.”