BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | A Soho native has made it onto “The Voice,” a singing competition series on NBC now in its 16th season.
On Mon., March 18, 17-year-old Celia Babini sang “idontwannabeyouanymore,” by Billie Ellish, and earned a spot on Team Adam, meaning that judge Adam Levine has committed to mentoring her as the competition continues.
“It did not feel real,” Babini said in a phone interview.
“It’s an incredibly surreal experience because you go from being this rather undiscovered young artist — my biggest show I had ever played was like 1,500 people — to singing in front of four incredibly well-respected, amazing artists. It feels fake but it felt amazing.”
Each season begins with “blind auditions” in front of the show’s four judges: singers Levine, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Blake Shelton. As the contestants perform onstage in front of a massive audience, the judges listen with their backs to the contestant, so as to only judge them on their voice. If a singer’s sound strikes a chord with a judge, he or she hits a button that turns the judge’s chair and flashes on a light that says, “I want you.” At the end of the audition, contestants can then choose which team they want to join for the remainder of their time on the show.
“The Voice” is a possibly life-changing opportunity for contestants since winners of the competition are offered a record deal and $100,000. Either way, Babini said she’s committed to her dream of being a singer/songwriter.
“Honestly, regardless of the outcome, I want to release music,” said Babini.
Despite her young age, Babini has always demonstrated an incredible amount of artistic direction. It’s something that she perhaps inherited from her parents. Her father, Luca Babini, is a top international photographer, and her mother, Bonnie Young, is a clothing designer. Babini is currently a senior at LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and Performing Arts, on the Upper West Side.
At the age of 3, Babini started singing and by age 6, began writing her own songs. Eventually, she taught herself how to play the guitar and piano and pushed to perform at what she considers small venues, like The Bitter End and The Delancey, in New York, and The Commodore, in Nashville.
Shortly before auditioning for “The Voice,” Babini had been performing in Los Angeles, and had performed in front of 1,500 people at an anniversary party in Chicago, her largest audience up until her time on “The Voice.”
Despite her achievements, Babini acknowledges she still has a lot to learn about singing, songwriting and performing.
So far, she said, she has learned one important lesson: “Don’t be afraid to go out there and take risks.”