Like most people just starting out in their careers, Autumn Turner ’14 is working hard to make her dreams come true. But unlike most, she’s doing it on a national stage.
Turner, an English teacher and an ice skating coach, is a singer at heart and in February she landed a spot as a contestant on this season’s The Voice, a singing competition on NBC in which vocalists vie for a recording contract. During the initial round, the singers perform for four celebrity coaches in a “blind competition,” where the celebrities can’t see them and choose them for their “teams” based solely on their voices. In the next stage of competition, the teams and vocalists battle it out on live television.
Turner’s performance of the Donna Summer classic, Last Dance, during her blind audition inspired all four judges to want her on their teams. Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and R&B artist Alicia Keys both aggressively wooed Turner, who ultimately chose to join “Team Alicia.”
“We have similar vibes and thoughts about a lot of things,” says Turner, who also liked that she shares an East Coast connection with Keys. “Everything she was saying resonated with me, and it’s how I speak to my students every day. I make sure that they’re in it and they’re happy, and she said a lot of the stuff that I say to them. That’s what made me choose her. She’s just so positive.”
Turner grew up singing in church and choir and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in musical theatre. Since graduating, Turner has worked as an English teacher and figure skating coach. She says her time at Montclair State helped give her a foundation for what she’s doing now.
“I loved that the people and teachers there were really willing to help you and get to know who you are. We were always encouraged to give it our all and not be embarrassed if we messed up on something – that’s how you learn and grow as a performer.”
Turner says that’s similar to how things work on The Voice, where the vocalists are “like a second family” despite battling it out with each other each episode. Add to that the opportunity to work with the talented musicians who serve as the show’s coaches, and she’s soaking up every moment.
“The experience has been wonderful – it’s like going to summer camp,” says Turner. “You get to meet all of these wonderful new people who are helping you grow.”
And, although Turner started off on Team Alicia, Levine used one of his “steals” to bring her onto his team. Autumn’s run on the show lasted until mid-April, but she doesn’t let the fact that she didn’t win bring her down. She’ll keep singing.
“I really just want to do what I love and show people that you have to keep trying and trying until it happens,” says Turner. “I want to be able to put my music out there and show that hard work and dedication pay off.”