During the “Blind Auditions” episode on “The Voice,” Cates started singing Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson almost immediately slammed her big red judge’s button to claim Cates as a member of her team for Season 15.
Fans and family backstage were jumping with excitement. It had been a long road for the 17-year-old and former Centerville resident who grew up singing and acting. She lived in Centerville up through the eighth grade and is an alumni of Town Hall Theatre in Washington Township.
>> PHOTOS: A look back at Abby Cates’ journey on “The Voice”
“It’s kind of fun. I feel like I’m living two different lives. I kind of feel like Hannah Montana. Because on one hand, I feel normal,” Cates told us in an interview following the first round of the singing competition. “Like I’m doing normal stuff in my senior year like going to football games and doing classes and stuff like that, but I’m also doing part homeschool because of ‘The Voice.’ ... So it’s kind of a double-life scenario.”
The dream to sing in front of others has been taking shape since the first grade right here in the Dayton-area, Cates said. While attending Primary Village South in Centerville, Cates had a taste of the spotlight during a solo performance in first grade.
“I realized people actually kind of like this.” Then, ever since the young starling took it to the “big stage” in second grade at her first show at Towne Hall Theatre, the dream has been “nonstop.”
"The Voice" was Cates' first mega platform to let her talent shine. More than 100,000 fans had already been following her online on her Instagram account before "The Voice." Since 2014, Cates has been singing and playing instruments in her bedroom, which helped her grow a fan base. It was actually her online followers who began encouraging her to audition for something bigger, like "The Voice" or "American Idol." It turned out that "The Voice" producers had plans to contact her directly — "skipping" the very beginning audition lines in a sense.
“I was kind of thinking about it and always had it in the back of my mind and then ‘The Voice’ reached out to me to come audition for them,” Cates said. “I was like ‘oh, it’s meant to be. I have to do it.’”
Now that her music career is reaching a new level, Cates’ online fan base continues to grow.
“I’m really excited for them to finally see,” Cates said. “... Just seeing something come to fruition — not just filming in my room and uploading it online. It’s reaching millions of people on national television. So it’s even cooler to have this bigger platform to work with.”
Although Cates was limited in how much she could disclose at the time, she said the next two rounds of the show have been filmed. Between episodes, the teen had been jet-setting back and forth between Ohio and L.A.— filming and training with “The Voice” coach Kelly Clarkson.
“I’m just so excited that everyone’s supporting me, and I’m glad to be representing Cincinnati and Dayton,” Cates said.