If we’re to take lessons from Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Voice,” folks will have trouble remembering much about the eventual winner. (Season 3 finally settled into live performance shows this week.)
Original champ Javier Colon parted ways with his label a year after his win. Season 2’s Jermaine Paul releases an album next month and seems destined for the same fate.
And then there’s RaeLynn.
The Baytown teen made it to Season 2’s quarter-finals on the strength of her sassy attitude and twangy performances. Despite being cut weeks before the finale, she remains one of the series’ most talked-about singers, evoking opinions on both sides of the fence.
“Miranda (Lambert) sent me a text and said, ‘Honey, you never want to be just a lukewarm artist. You want people to love you or hate you. That means you’re doing something right. You never want to be in the middle,’ ” RaeLynn says.
“That meant so much to me then. Oh my God, Miranda Lambert’s giving me advice!”
It’s impossible not to be charmed by the 18-year-old singer, who performs Saturday during the Galleria Christmas tree lighting. (“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited!”) Like Kellie Pickler before her, RaeLynn’s chatty, comedic persona has bottle-blond shades of the great Dolly Parton (an early influence, alongside the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain).
And love or hate, RaeLynn is getting things done. She signed a record deal with Republic Nashville earlier this year and has already recorded several tracks for her debut album. She’s co-producing with Nashville great Dan Huff and Nicolle Galyon (who also appeared on “The Voice”). A single is tentatively due by the end of the year, and flirty tune “I Want Your Boyfriend” has already been making the online rounds.
“I really do think that people are gonna be blown away,” she says. “ ‘The Voice’ got to see the rock-country, badass, sassy side of me. But they didn’t get to see the depth. I’m excited for them to see my true artistry, besides just rockin’ out and shakin’ my butt.”
She calls Nashville her second home but hasn’t forgotten her, um, humble origins.
“I do get to Baytown once a month to get my dose of reality and back to my ghetto roots,” she says with a giggle. “The first thing I do is go to Bayou City Wings. Duh — it’s the best wing place ever.”
It’s easy to see why RaeLynn rose above so many “Voice” hopefuls to secure a deal and command attention, even months after her season ended. She has a unique vocal style, a defined image and a memorable personality. She started showcasing for labels at 16 years old and grew up in a family of “Christian and country music.” (Her cousins lead Grammy-nominated Christian band Leeland.)
“It would have taken two years of touring to get the fan base that I got from being on a television show for five months,” she says. “And I’m so thankful for that.”
RaeLynn also has been smart about establishing and maintaining connections with Blake Shelton, her mentor on “The Voice,” and wife Lambert. The couple has been champions of RaeLynn’s aggressively country sound far beyond the TV competition. She’s popped up onstage with both superstars and has been doing some writing with Lambert.
“I get a call on a weekly basis from them — checking on me, seeing how I’m doing, making sure that I’m not getting screwed over. They’re very funny,” RaeLynn says. “To have them fall in love with my music and get excited about me, it’s an absolute dream come true. They are the king and queen of country at this moment in time.”
Indeed. Shelton was crowned entertainer and male vocalist of the year at last week’s Country Music Association Awards, and Lambert nabbed her third consecutive trophy for female vocalist of the year. Aside from Taylor Swift (whose reach goes far beyond country), there’s no one bigger in the genre.
“I remember doing my homework when I was 11. I watched CMT music videos every day, and (Lambert’s) ‘Me and Charlie Talking’ came up. I called my mom, because she was at Walmart, and asked her to get (Lambert’s “Kerosene” CD) for me. My dog could probably still sing that record. I sang it every day. She just inspired me so much on so many levels.
“She’s like my big sister. If anybody tried to hurt me, she would kill them. It’s just so amazing to me. It just goes to show that anything can happen.”
24th annual Ice Spectacular and Galleria Tree Lighting
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Houston Galleria, 5085 Westheimer
free; 713-622-0663 or galleriahouston.com