MISSISSIPPI, MUSIC, TELEVISION
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Mississippi native competes on The Voice

95018-thevoice3Laurel native Liz Davis fondly recalls performing for her grandparents at their Greenville home.

“I was very loud,” she said, “so when everyone was sitting around, I would be on the fireplace acting like it was a stage.”

Tonight at 7, you can catch a glimpse of her performing on the national stage as one of the Top 64 contestants vying for a recording contract on the NBC show “The Voice.”

“It’s a recap of the Top 64, so everybody can see whose on each team and get familiar with everyone before the Battle Rounds start next week,” Davis said. “During the Battle Rounds, a coach picks two members of his team to battle it out, and actually cuts the teams down to half.”

Davis auditioned for the show singing the Gretchen Wilson hit “Here for the Party.” Three of the four judges — Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera — pushed their I Want You button. She chose Shelton as her mentor.

Davis calls herself a “late bloomer” to singing. The first time she sang in front of a crowd was in a seventh-grade talent show after practicing in her basement every day for a year with the karaoke machine her parents got her for Christmas.

“My mom never let anyone hear me until that talent show in seventh grade,” she said. “ She won’t tell you this, but she was a little scared and freaked out. I got up there and sang a LeeAnn Rimes song. I yodeled, and everyone was just blown away. They had no idea I could sing. And from that point on, my mom signed me up for every talent show.”

“The Voice” is her biggest gig yet.

“It was kind of a tough decision for me to be out there in the whole reality show field again,” said the Madison Central High School graduate, who won “P. Diddy’s Starmaker” on MTV in 2009. From thousands who auditioned, 14 were chosen to compete, and Davis became the first country singer to land a deal with Diddy’s label, Bad Boy Records.

Davis said people often ask her what came of that record deal?

“I’d like to know the same thing because I didn’t hear from anyone after I won the show,” she said. “So here I was, 21 years old. I won the competition that I thought would set me up to help me be in country music and record. I just have to think in my head that maybe (Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy) didn’t know what to do with my genre.”

Davis said she didn’t hear from anyone from Starkmaker until a year and a half after the show ended.

“At that time, I was about to be 23 years old,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I was a priority at all. I feel like when someone believes in your music, you should feel like you are one of their priorities they want to push. I wasn’t even given a chance.”

Davis said there are no hard feelings.

“Here I am again, putting myself out there, and this time it’s even better because it’s the number one show on television,” the 25-year-old said, “so there’s a huge difference in that. I can go on the best show and work with the best coaches, or I can keep trying to struggle and hope I get a meeting with someone. I have met some of the most talented people I’m hoping to work with regardless of what happens.”

Liz’s parents, Dale Davis, a poultry salesman, and her mom, Lauree Davis, who owns a consignment shop in Greenville, remember that middle school talent show when they first heard her amaze the crowd.

“We were shocked at this big voice coming from this young girl,” Lauree Davis said.

Lauree Davis said she was thrilled when she heard her daughter had landed a spot on another national talent competition.

“We are blown away by all the support we have gotten from all across Mississippi,” she said. “They are truly standing behind her.”

Laney McNeer of Ridgeland will be rooting for her best friend.

“I met Liz in 2005 when we were auditioning for Renaissance, the performing group,” she said. “We were vocalists together at Delta State University. We made an instant connection, and we’ve been the best of friends ever since.”

She describes her friend as “electric.”

“She’s always so energetic,” she said.

Davis also is ambitious, McNeer said.

“She knows that she was born to be a performer, and she will stop at nothing to make this happen for her,” she said. “I will absolutely be rooting for Liz.She should win because she has the whole package. Liz was born to do this, and I can’t imagine her doing anything other than being a professional performer.”

–LaReeca Rucker, The Clarion-Ledger.

Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

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