Jessie Pitts made Birmingham proud on the reality show The Voice.
Written by Katie Turpen
Styling by Andy Smith of Mr. Smith Styling Co.
“A bowl of Lucky Charms, marshmallows only.” That’s how singer Blake Shelton described Jessie Pitts’ sultry vocals on NBC’s The Voice. Gwen Stefani compared her sound to that of an angel. Pitts ended up finishing in the top 12 on the popular show’s seventh season, where she was she was able to train under celebrity coaches and work with well-known artists such as Taylor Swift and Gavin Rossdale.
But long before she was causing chairs to swivel around on televisions across the country, Pitts was practicing her vocals inside a barn where she grew up with five siblings. Each of them pursued their own unique passions and their parents encouraged their creativity. “A lot of people are drawn to acoustics or other elements of a song. I’ve just always been drawn to vocals,” she says.
It wasn’t until she was in her teenage years that Pitts truly found her voice, so to speak. She sang her first solo at age 16. Pitts attended Spain Park High School and then Belmont University in Nashville, where she majored in music business and marketing. It was at Belmont that a friend begged her try out for The Voice. She had auditioned two years before in Atlanta and received the “golden ticket” but was told to come back when she was a little older and had more experience.
The rest? Well it’s pretty much history, Pitts says. “It’s been a series of doors opening and closing,” she says. “I would never take back a moment of any of it.”
The Voice format features five stages of competition. The first are the blind auditions, where contestants sing in hopes of making one or more of the four celebrity judges turn around in their chairs. These are followed by the battle rounds, the knockouts, the live playoffs, and finally, the live performance shows. For the blind audition, Pitts sang Brandi Carlile’s “The Story,” causing judge Gwen Stefani to swivel her chair around almost immediately; shortly after, Shelton followed. Pitts ultimately chose to be on Stefani’s team and was later picked as a wildcard by Shelton. One of her standout songs was Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” which landed at No. 60 on the iTunes charts.
Pitts said she was honored and excited to represent Birmingham on the show, believing there is truly something vibrant and special about the magic city’s growing music scene. She has performed locally, including at Hoover’s annual Freedom Fest in July and Seeds Coffee in Homewood. “I’m proud to say I’m from Birmingham,” Pitts says. “I’m proud to be from a place where music is on the rise and music production is on the rise.”
In September, Pitts released her first single, “Heart on Fire.” The song came after a long writing drought, in which she struggled to gain victory over personal issues. One day, as it always seems to happen, she woke up and the creativity just came pouring out of her. “‘Heart on Fire’ has that raw emotion. That song is my baby,” she says. “This was me stepping outside of The Voice. It’s a sample of what is to come.”
This spring, the young artist plans to move out to Los Angeles and drop a new album in July around her 21st birthday. She says fans can expect the album to have some of the same emotion of “Heart on Fire,” but with acoustic elements as well.
For anyone looking to be a musician, Pitts’s advice is to surround yourself with other musicians and creative minds. She credits her opportunity to work with great artists as shaping her own talents and personal growth. She says she has loyal fans and finds it almost hard to believe she started out having 90 Twitter followers and now has more than 30,000. “It’s such a reward and it just blows my mind,” she says. “I’m so blessed.”
As Pitts prepares for her move to California and the release of her first album, she shares a piece of advice from a friend that keeps her moving forward: “If it excites you and terrifies you at the same time, then it’s stupid not to do it. It’s a terrifying move. But if I never go out there, then I’ll never know.”