Bailey Rae caught the attention of country music fans everywhere with her traditional country covers on Season 19 of NBC’s The Voice.
After auditioning with Lee Ann Womack’s “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger,” the Oklahoma native found a fan in coach John Legend. She went on to become the first country singer to ever join Team Legend on The Voice and continued to impress viewers throughout the season with covers of Billy Currington, George Jones/Chris Stapleton and Kenny Rogers (just to name a few).
After securing the Wildcard Instant Save, Bailey Rae made her way into Top 9, but was eliminated prior to the finale.
Country Now recently caught up with Bailey Rae to reflect on her time on the show and discuss what’s next for her. Check out our exclusive Q&A below.
What made you decide to audition for The Voice and how did you choose your audition song?
Being on The Voice has been a dream of mine for some time. I would watch the show and think, ‘wow, wouldn’t that be the most incredible experience?’ Even though I am only 18 years old, I’ve been working for the past several years towards a career as a country music artist. I felt like I was finally ready to audition for the show and that all my experiences over the past several years had prepared me to take this leap of faith. I knew The Voice would be one of the most amazing opportunities to share my love for classic country music on the biggest stage of my life and it would give me the chance to work with some of the most talented, well-known artists in the music industry. Picking a song for the audition was tough, because I knew there would only be one shot to go in and make a big impression. I wanted to choose a song that would showcase my vocal ability, along with showing who I am as an artist. I chose to sing a song by one of my favorite country singers, Lee Ann Womack, who has an amazing true country voice.
What was your first thought when John Legend turned his chair for you?
When John Legend turned his chair for me, a country singer, I was shocked and I joke that I almost passed out. It is difficult to keep singing and not totally freak out. I already had an idea that some of the coach’s teams were full and so I wanted to go out and just perform my very best no matter what happened. Then he brought out the “HAND” to congratulate me and I just remember Kelly laughing and saying I looked terrified. That hand was pretty scary though.
What did it mean to you to be the first-ever country artist on his team?
Being the first country artist on Team Legend is a huge honor and I am still so very thankful to John Legend for taking a chance on a little country girl from Oklahoma. John showed me that it doesn’t matter what genre of music you sing – music has the power to connect people.
What was it like working with John and what’s the best advice he gave you?
Working with THE John Legend was probably the coolest experience of my life. Here he is this major award-winning artist – truly a legend – and yet, he was the most kind and genuine coach. Of course, I would get a little nervous working with him, but he just has this calm, cool personality that puts you at ease. I think the best advice John Legend gave me was to stay true to who I am as an artist and to stick to my classic country roots. I love that he said I was bold in singing the country classics and not trying to conform to the newer, more modern country music that is played today on country radio. I had honestly never thought of myself as bold, I just knew that I had a passion for classic country music and I wanted to share it with a new generation of country music fans.
Looking back, what was your favorite memory from the show?
Honestly, I have so many favorites, but one of my favorite memories is the day I received the call and invitation to come to LA for The Voice. I just remember being at a complete loss of words as I was running through all the emotions…shock, nervousness and excitement. It was one of the best days of my life and it came at the best time possible. When we received the call, my senior year of high school was basically on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As sad as it seemed to be missing out on my senior year, senior prom and possibly graduation, the call from The Voice gave me something positive to focus on and to prepare for.
Are you really Blake Shelton’s neighbor? Any plans to perform at Ole Red Tishomingo?
Well, I’m actually pretty close! Oklahoma is such a friendly state, we consider everyone our neighbor. I was super excited to be asked where I was from in my blind audition because I knew Blake would be so surprised. Ole Red Tishomingo is such a fun place and I’ve performed there quite a bit. I always secretly hoped that Blake would be there some time and that I would get the chance to sing for him. Isn’t it funny that I came all the way out to LA and then had the opportunity to meet him, since we literally live within 30 minutes of each other?
Did you form any friendships that you think will go beyond the show?
I was able to meet so many amazing artists who were part of Season 19 of The Voice. It was so much fun meeting people from all over the United States who shared the same passion for music as I have. I plan on keeping in touch with many of the artists and hope to work with some of them in the future.
How did it feel performing in front of four of music’s biggest stars, without a live audience?
Performing in front of a live audience is so much fun because you can draw so much energy from the audience. I started performing on stage at age thirteen and was always taught though that it does not matter if there are five people or five hundred people in the audience, you always bring your very best performance no matter what. I really feel like we were able to have a more personal connection with the coaches through our performances.
Do you plan to keep in touch with any of the coaches as you navigate your career?
That would just be amazing! I would love to continue working with any of the coaches this season and honestly, I’m not ready for the whole experience to be over. You know, if John wanted to produce my first country EP, then I would be all up for that – or if Blake wanted to help guide me on my journey to becoming a successful country artist, then I would be ready for that too.
Where did your love for traditional country music come from?
My love for traditional country music came at an early age. My grandmother went to a garage sale and found a box of old country vinyl records that had belonged to my great-great grandma. She bought the records and gave them to me for Christmas, along with my first record player. Listening to those long-loved songs from Dolly, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Merle and Waylon, I fell in love with the classic country sound. When I started performing, I then drew inspiration from many of these country classics. I still collect classic country vinyl today and have over a hundred albums in my collection. My favorites though are those albums belonging to my great-grandma. Even though I never met her, I still feel connected to her when I put on one of those old Eddie Arnold albums.
What was your favorite performance from your time on the show?
My favorite performance was singing “Never Again, Again” during the Top 9 instant save. My nerves were going crazy, but I felt very comfortable with the song selection. After that performance, I feel like America truly saw who I was as an artist and no matter what happened with the instant save vote, I had went out on that stage and gave the very best performance I could have given.
What’s next for you?
First, I’m excited to have some time with my family and friends over the holidays and then it’s back to work. Plans are in the works for a “Welcome Home” VIP concert with an option for my fans to join virtually as well. It is going to be so much fun! I will also have new music coming soon after the new year. Making it on The Voice was a goal that I have wanted to achieve for some time now. I’ve been thinking that it’s time to start working toward my next goal, which is to perform someday at the Grand Ole Opry.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey. I’ve received so much love and support, for which I am so very thankful. I’ve always said that I have the very best family, Shawnda Rains studio family, friends and music supporters who have been with me since I was thirteen years old performing on stage. Now because of The Voice, I have so many new supporters and fans, which has just been amazing. I will forever be grateful to The Voice for this experience, to John Legend for being the best coach and to all the incredible people who work on the show.