Q&A: MTSU’s Kristi Hoopes shares experience on ‘The Voice’

Middle Tennessee State University’s very own sophomore and music business major Kristi Hoopes took her singing talents to Los Angeles on Season 13 of NBC’s hit show “The Voice.” The 19-year-old swooned three judges — Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Jennifer Hudson — with her rendition of Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” before ultimately choosing Team Blake.

Hoopes refers to herself as the “hippie chick with twang” due to her undying love for ’70s-influenced country music. In her blind audition on “The Voice,” we see that she maintains a spunky stage presence and sure knows how to work an audience.

Following her audition, we spoke to Hoopes on the role MTSU has played in her music career and her excitement toward joining “The Voice.”

When did you begin singing and who were some of your musical influences?

So my mom will tell you that I started singing when I was two on the coffee table — it was Barney. But I really started singing right about when I was about 10-years-old … I auditioned for my third grade talent show with Loretta Lynn’s rendition of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” My biggest hero was Loretta Lynn, and she still is to this day … I just love that classic country sound, and I think that’s what makes people love country music so much is it’s got such honest storytelling, and the instrumentation is incredible. I love a good steel guitar and a banjo; that’s alway my go-to.

When did you move to Murfreesboro and what prompted that move?

I moved to Murfreesboro last year to attend MTSU, and the move from Colorado was prompted by looking at colleges that had a music business degree. I was split between Belmont and MTSU, and I toured both and at the end of the day, MTSU just felt like home; it just felt comfortable. It felt like the kind of place that I wanted to stake my claim in and start my career journey in Nashville.

Would you say that MTSU has taught you anything about the industry that you couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

Absolutely. I’ve learned so much from not only the actual coursework of the classes that I’ve taken within the RIM department but really from the professors themselves. I think what makes MTSU such an incredible school and their program so incredible is the fact that their professors don’t only have experience in the industry, but there are some that are actively still involved in it. My professors — Tammy Donham, Matt O’Brien, Amy Macy — are becoming mentors for me and are helping open doors in my career that I knew I couldn’t have on my own. I’ve always had the mentality that you have to be there to win, and being out in Colorado I knew that I needed to be in that Nashville area in order to really make it. MTSU has been life-changing for my career. I’ve met so many students that have also contributed: I’ve had people designing my logos, helping me with my videos and helping me with content creation. It just makes me feel incredibly honored to be part of a program that is really turning out the next faces of the industry.

There are so many different singing competitions now. What made you choose to compete on “The Voice?”

Well, “The Voice” kind of chose me. Their casting director got in touch with me and asked if I would be interested, and I had never really been interested in doing one of those shows. It just didn’t seem like something I would ever be a part of, and when they came and presented me with the opportunity I just really couldn’t say no. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my career it’s that when you have opportunities this big present themself, you don’t say no. A couple years ago, I was given the opportunity to compete in a songwriting contest. I took that opportunity and ended up getting to record my first few singles at RCA Studio A. So, when it came to me I just said, “Ya know, I think I need to take this.” I couldn’t ask for a better show, because what I really think sets them apart is that they’re bringing the best voices that they can find to put on that stage before their judges, and I feel incredibly honored to be a part of that.

We saw you sing Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” on the blind auditions. Why did you choose that song?

First off, I’ve been a Trisha fan since I was little, little. My mom loved Trisha Yearwood, so she passed that love to me. But that had always been one of my signature songs all throughout my touring career, and in Colorado I used that song to open up just about every show that I’ve ever done. It’s just such a fabulous tune. It’s everything that country music is, and I think it’s a great representation of our genre, and Trisha is a great representation of not only a female country artist but of a woman in general. And I think it showed my range of what I can do; it’s kind of an obscure tune, not too many people know it, but that’s part of what’s great about the platform of “The Voice” is you expose people to music they’ve never heard before. It just seemed like the right choice.

You were one of the last to audition and teams were filling up. Was there an extra amount of pressure to perform well?

There was, I mean my mindset going into this was whatever will be will be. Something that’s a part of my rituals is that I always say the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I knew that I had to leave it all out there on the stage and no matter if I got a chair turn or not, I wanted to make my family proud and walk away being proud of my performance no matter the outcome, because to even make it to that point and to have the opportunity to do a blind audition was more than I could have ever imagined. I just went out there and I did my thing, and I guess I did my thing pretty okay.

You got three chairs to turn, and Adam fought pretty hard for you. What was going through your head in that moment?

My mind was going a million miles a minute. It was one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever made in my life, because to be honest there was a moment where I considered actually joining Adam’s team. That idea of being the only country artist and standing apart seemed very intriguing, but you want to pick the people who can advance your career the most. You’re always looking at who has the connections, and there’s just no denying that Blake Shelton is an incredible force in the industry. For me, what was really important was who’s going to advance my career after the show is already over, because this is for a limited time. There will be a season after this, but who’s really going to be there to potentially drive my career forward after this is all over, and I knew Blake was the person who could do that for me. He has shown in previous seasons that he gives help to those who are trying to make it. RaeLynn is a really good example of that.

What are your plans after “The Voice?”

I’ve been building up my catalogue of original music, and I think at this point I want to put out a fully produced EP and use that as a demo as well, and start knocking down some doors and getting some publishers and people in the industry interested. I’m hoping that “The Voice” is going to give me some leverage, and my hope is, too, that maybe I might get to work with Blake Shelton again down the line because it was just such an awesome experience. I’m very grateful that he used his last button push on me. I can’t get over that.

To purchase Hoopes’ rendition of “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” click here.

For more information on Kristi Hoopes, click here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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