11:34am PT by Ashley Lee
'Voice' Runner-Up Jacquie Lee Shares Series' Top Takeaway, Christina Aguilera's Advice
Voice runner-up Jacquie Lee is ready to compete in the post-reality show music scene, which is much more cutthroat than any televised talent competition.
"My goal was just to get my own music out as fast as possible, because I didn't want people to see me as a cover artist or a character from a TV show. I have something to say — I write my own music and I'm an actual artist," she tells The Hollywood Reporter of releasing her EP, Broken Ones, last month, after wrapping the Voice tour with other former competitors and finishing her season behind winner Tessanne Chin in December 2013. To those who brush her off as just another singing-series alum, she laughs, "I'm gonna prove you wrong! I believe that I have something special and I'm gonna let it show."
The New Jersey native — a pint-sized 17-year-old with a skyscraping range and booming projection — describes her music as "real, honest and raw." Of the five tracks on her Atlantic Records EP (which includes an ethereal, piano-based take on Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"), the most vocally demanding is "Tears Fall," while ballad "Right Love" is particularly emotionally draining. And "Drown Me in Your Love" almost didn't make the release: "I wasn't sure that it was the best that it could be, but I worked hard [on the last day] and I'm so glad it made it."
Initially apprehensive about hitting the road for The Voice tour, Lee surprisingly fell in love with touring and looks forward to headlining her own stage jaunt — thanks to lasting advice from her Voice coach, Christina Aguilera. "Moving forward, the one piece of advice that has been most valuable to me has been just to write everything down," she recalls. "At first, when she said it, I just said, 'OK, will do,' but it's so much more meaningful than it sounds. When you're on the road and meeting all of these new people, you sort of lose your sense of reality and who you can trust. Writing things down helps to not lose yourself, or get further away from yourself every day."
And though she's loaded with artistic takeaways from her time under Aguilera's wing, Lee's time on the NBC series has equipped her with practical, industry-specific sensibilities that she hopes will prevent her from floating into post-show anonymity. "It was very stressful — you were also competing with people you were friends with," she explains. "It was pretty much a boot camp that helped me make this EP. I learned how to pace myself, manage my time and be a better businesswoman."