A story in music | New


ASHLAND Holly Elizabeth Forbes isn’t an overnight sensation, despite her electrifying “Rocket Man” performance this week on NBC’s “The Voice”.

The 31-year-old native of Argillite said she tried the show several times before her virtual audition this year, which she said was more relaxed than the in-person auditions; she received a reminder informing her that she had been selected to go to California for blind televised auditions.

“It was like the fifth time,” she said. “I auditioned for the first season when I was 19 or 20. I didn’t do it for a few years, but I did it this time because of the pandemic.

“I was pregnant and at home a lot, playing the piano, singing and broadcasting live,” she continued. “I joined a group called Quarantine Karaoke with thousands and thousands of people. They all made me horny and I felt like I had really improved while we were locked out and felt I was finally ready to do it again. “

In the beginning

Forbes lived in Ashland for a few years, attending Poage Elementary School for the second and third years before moving to Catlettsburg, where she now lives.

As a child, her sister, Erika, and her father sang gospel music in the area, and Holly joined her when she was 8 to 12 years old. They performed under the name The Forbes Family.

Erika said singing with Holly was fun.

“We would always buy karaoke CDs and sing them together in our bedroom over and over again,” she said. “We knew she had a really special talent from a young age. She spent hours listening to songs by artists she admired, learning to use her voice like them. It was really amazing to see her learn to sing like that.

Health issues plagued her at times – she had seizures and was taking medication that caused her to lose her hair – but she got over the seizures and continued to work on her music career undeterred.

After high school, she attended Morehead State University for two years, where she studied music education and vocal performance.

“I loved it there,” she said. “My teacher, Dr Roosevelt Escalante, has been a great inspiration to me.”

Escalante is a voice teacher at MSU who composes gospel music and has a long history of vocal performance and education, as well as ministry. He also has a habit of making former students appear on “The Voice”.

“This is the fourth year in a row that I have students on display,” Escalante said. MaKenzie Thomas, originally from Wallingford, appeared in seasons 14 and 15; Zack Day of Stearns was in season 18.

Escalante said right away that he knew Forbes was talented.

“She came to Morehead and auditioned as a music major. She wasn’t polite at the time, but I could tell from her hearing that she had something special, ”said Escalante, recalling that she had performed in her Black Gospel Ensemble and her ensemble. jazz. “From the start I knew she was a star.”

He said a video of the gospel ensemble featuring Forbes singing “Peace Like a River” was posted on YouTube when she was in her first grade. “People from all over the world have contacted me about this,” he said.

Thumbs up

Escalante said he was pleasantly surprised by Forbes’ performance on “The Voice”.

“I was happy to see that she continued to grow,” he said. “I was so proud, I was in tears. She keeps getting better and better. Holly is an example of how people can shut you out, but you just have to keep fighting and getting better and better.

He said his song choice could have been surprising, but focused.

“(It) showed how sweet her voice is and she had a sort of 70s soulful vibe,” he said.

Sweet doesn’t stop at her voice either, he said

“She’s one of the few people, if you talked to the people she was at school with everyone loves her, and when you think about it she’s a little different and it’s amazing that someone one who is ‘different’ is the most popular person, ”Escalante said, noting that her MSU family is praying for and rooting for her.

“We are proud that it shows what Kentucky has to offer,” he said.

Forbes left Morehead, taking a full-time job and starting a family. But she continued to perform with the indie band Qiet and in the acoustic duo Holly and the Guy with her fiancé, Seth Carey. She also continued to grow as an artist.

“It’s important to understand that different people peak at different times,” Escalante said. “Holly hasn’t peaked yet.”

to California

Forbes’ trip to Los Angeles for his blind audition in the show’s 21st season was not his first visit to Golden State. She said she visited California as part of the Upward Bound program when she was in high school, visiting San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and Stanford University. His last trip was quite different, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a lot more work for everyone involved, just having to take precautions, but I would say I don’t think that made anything a negative experience,” Forbes said. Competitors were able to socialize through Zoom.

“We had Zoom game nights and we all talked a lot on group messages,” she said. “I made so many friends. I feel like I know just about everyone there.

She is forced to “The Voice” to avoid discussions on many aspects of the series, but said she was in California during the summer.

“We had some downtime, but everything was really planned efficiently,” she said. “We had a lot to do and I feel like I learned a lot and improved with the vocals and the stage presence.”

The show team helped the contestants with their looks, but Forbes said it was a simple help: no makeover.

“They help you, but you have your own style and you choose your outfit,” she said of the long black ensemble she wore for her performance. “They help you accessorize and complete the outfit.” Even the makeup and manicure belonged to the artists.

Take the stage

While the country, not to mention the show’s four judges, was captivated by Forbes’ performance of “Rocket Man”, the singer had little on her mind but singing, not realizing the effect her sound had on her. solo had on listeners.

“I was in the moment. I don’t really know what I was thinking, ”she said of Monday’s episode. “It was just crazy for me. You blow it up so much in your head. I wasn’t prepared for them all to turn around. I was just pouring out my heart and soul after they turned. I was so happy. “

His choice of judge has become a cliffhanger; she revealed in Tuesday’s episode that she would choose Kelly Clarkson as her coach.

“I thought my style was more like her,” she said. “I watched the first season of ‘American Idol’. I was in seventh grade and was addicted to her the first time I heard her.

Forbes said she had hoped to be able to work with Clarkson. “But I love them all. I would have been 100% happy to work with any of them, ”she said.

Forbes’ sister Erika said friends and family who watched the show Monday at the Mill Bakery and Cafe were moved by her performance.

“We were sure (the judges) would love it, but I don’t think any of us expected all the judges to turn their chairs in the first 30 seconds,” she said. declared. “We were all absolutely thrilled, crying, hugging each other, so proud and happy that they all wanted to work with her.”


Of course, Forbes isn’t allowed to comment on how she ended up doing on the show, nor to comment in any way that hints at the outcome. Those who want to know will have to tune in to “The Voice,” which airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

She will admit that keeping secrets has been difficult, especially with a girl at school who is “obsessed with Ariana Grande”, one of the judges.

But the support she received from her employer, Autism Services Center in Huntington, could have made up for any discomfort.

“They are really open to everything. They’ve been so supportive all the time, ”she said.

The support from the Tri-States has also been quite pleasant, she added.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “I love my hometown and I’m happy to have everyone’s support.”

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